Our tent was water repellent, but not waterproof. Liquid hit the canvas
with the intensity of an ice pick, boring bits of itself through the mesh.
Inside, it was raining a fine mist visible by lantern light.
Outside, lightning flashed intermittently, followed by drum rolls of thunder,
echoing zig-zig against the cliffs of Zion.
Above the background of a roaring Virgin River another voice called to us.
I opened the tent zipper to reveal the face of a forest ranger and more
lip-read than heard her shouted warning. We and the other tenters on the river
loop were camped on a flood plain which could overflow in storms as vigorous
as the one we were now experiencing.
My son Victor and I moved our most precious belongings and ourselves to the car,
leaving behind the tent and air mattresses on a lower slope. Once inside our car,
the torrent only increased. Vic asked if the lightning posed a threat and I assured
him that the tall trees and buildings would make more likely lightning rods.
Crack! As soon as I made the statement, a bolt of electricity exploded close by.
We both jumped. For an instant, the entire world was white. Then, as the glare subsided,
I found my 16 year old son's arms encircled round one of mine.
We relaxed into our seats. The seats could tilt, but none of the bends seemed
to match those of my body. I shifted uncomfortably, trying to ignore muscle
pains and the weight of bone against metal. I did not know that I finally slept.
I am in a place filled with women, some Black, some White. They are translucent,
overlapping each other at the shoulder, with others visible behind and to the side.
I especially notice one young Black woman who seems at the end of this progression.
In order to see her, I have to ignore the White woman directly in front and refocus
on the Black woman, instead. She has frizzy hair pulled to her left side in a ponytail;
her bangs are frizzy, too. Is this (my consistent dream character Willie?
I wonder. I begin telepathing, "Willie, Willie!" hoping one of the women will hear and recognize me.
Off to my right, I hear a female voice refer to me. "Time for her to wake up," she says.
I turn my head and gaze directly at her. Because the scene is lit by an eerie dark/white light,
I can see only that she has mid-length fluffy blonde hair. She is addressing a young
blonde man seated to her right.
It was time for me to wake up. The rain had abated and my body was a single large cramp.
Next to me, on my right, my dark-haired son was dozing. In the glaze of hypnopompia,
I felt that he and I were the dark counterparts of the light-haired young man and woman from my dream.
I pulled on my jacket for a walk to the restroom. On the return, the rain had stopped completely.
Clouds parted, revealing the moon in its fullest stage. I should have known,
I thought with a surge of irony. Only such a weird night as this would have a full moon.
The eerie interplay of light and shadow was the same as had occurred in my dream.
It seemed the further I retreated from civilization and its dichotomies of day and night,
the fuzzier became the arbitrary line between dark and light. Only later did I learn that
the moon would partially eclipse the sun that day. Once again, my own dreams had reflected
the shadow of a global event on the personal level.
The churning river was yet below its bank and my back muscles pleaded with me for
respite from strain. I live in a safe universe, I affirmed and headed for the car.
Vic and I gathered our sleeping bags and returned to the tent. We slept there peacefully until morning.
This article first appeared in The Dream Tree News, 3/5 (1999)