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Mark Twain's Dream


He saw his own death riding the tail
of the Great Comet. Then bet on how
he'd end the way he came in: on

the back of a fireball. But when
he dreamt his brother in that coffin
resting on two chairs, with white

roses on his chest, one red in the
middle—he woke shouting & would
not rest until he saw Henry safe. So

the life of a young steamboat pilot
was like a former life, remembering
how to steer the sky, that reflection

on the water—"like the space where
a cloud had been," he wrote. But the
cloud sailed, the day dawned again,

Henry's boat blew sky-high. When
Sam came to find him, Henry lay
in a coffin resting on two chairs.

Sam, looking for the roses, saw a
nurse entering with his prophecy
in her hands. There the white petals,

there the blood-center, fireball &
heart: the red rose. Like a dream of
depth, surface to twain, that space where
                                         a cloud had been.


Carol Muske-Dukes

Blue Rose
Penguin


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