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Callaloo 23.1 (2000) 171

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Second Telling

Forrest Hamer

Part 1: In the Family

There is the dream, and the first telling of it--
this is happening, I am dreaming, that isn't me--
and then a memory in one moment of remembering;
and then there is the telling to someone, the someone
a lover, a therapist, a stranger, whoever will hear.
And maybe there is no dream. Maybe all there is
in dreaming is revision.
            Well, I keep imagining
a woman her right breast gone, the woman lactating
from the other, and I think this is some sign to me
about language, my left ear deaf from birth
and the other cupped close for muted danger.
And my grandfather's voice, the one I haven't been
able to remember for years, is suddenly waking me up
in the morning, the clear tenor singing the hymn I think
is "Come, Ye Disconsolate." I wake hungry, aware
I haven't spoken a word yet and could
go on two or three hours without it, but once
I open my mouth the woman appears.
The baby sucking a breast supposes she is eating
the mother. And the man sucking his lover?
maybe the same. But this fantasy distracts.
So bliss occurs, sound is crowded out,
and the sharp small details light paths into memory.
And a sleeping girl or a sleeping man returns
to not speaking, to the beginning.

Forrest Hamer is a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, and a practicing psychologist in Oakland, CA. Call & Response (1995) is his first collection of poems.



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