I had a dream: The River Odalisques

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A close friend and I are piloting a boat down a river flowing through a valley in a stony, hilly country. We meet with occasional patches of moderate rapids. We are dressed in vaguely medieval clothing. Our craft is a sturdily built wooden dory—roundish, with overlapping planks, interior ribs, oarlocks, and such like nautical details. We are on a holiday, and we are enjoying ourselves, well, capitally, rather like Ratty and Mole punting about in Wind in the Willows, except our river is somewhat swifter flowing than their slow English stream.

Soon, as we round the S-bends, coasting downstream, we begin to encounter naked women standing in the river like living statues as if in the place of rocks, froth and foam kicking up around them, their arms raised above their heads in the odalisque pose. The first ones are rather Celtic, with red hair, fair skin, and small high breasts—but after that the women were of all types, all races, all stunningly beautiful. The proper word for them, I suppose, is nymphs (Nymph, in thy orisons are all my sins remembered). My companion thinks that instead of water sprites that they were some sort of advertising gimmick.

Eventually, we beach the boat next to two heavy breasted dark haired beauties standing close together in silent repose, and my companion and I scramble up a rocky slope to a large, open flat area where a fair or market was in progress. Though on the river it is a fine, sunny day, at the market is lit in a strange dim yellowish light.  Right at the top of the slope is a veritable harem of these wet, naked women lounging about, evidently taking a break from their damp, cold labors.

We walk through the midst of reclining river goddesses, and stroll about the fair. At some point my companion and I are separated. I begin to get the impression from the reaction of the people at the fair that we had violated a taboo by passing through the midst of the river’s harem of odalisques. I decide to head back to the boat. I detour around the nymph rest area this time, but when I get back to the sunlight by the riverside, I find that my boating companion has departed without me. The boat is gone and my gear is hanging from the fork of a driftwood tree.

Then I fall awake.

From Dr. Omed’s Book of Dreams

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2 responses to “I had a dream: The River Odalisques

  1. Dear Dr. Omed,

    I was the trout depicted in the picture of one of your odalisques swimming; you cannot see me well under the waves she is provoking. Your dull dream reminds me of a poem I once wrote for our friend Aunt Crabby:

    aerodynamic trout
    shimmering bullet speeds across
    beneath this still canoe
    streaks past that farther shore

    imagination
    a torpedo
    break me free
    from this little pond
    out of this flat puddle
    into that boundless sea
    where no longer
    constrained in mud
    I expand into eternity
    explode
    evaporate into
    immense nothingness
    at last

    meantime again
    minnow at the thin edge
    of a dark cool pool
    butt my head into the bank
    suck muck
    for a morsel
    or for oxygen
    minuscule blind pale translucent fish
    in a subterranean cavern
    immersed
    in an inch of water

    so my whole short life
    has been a mere instant
    of swimming struggle
    going nowhere
    in the dark
    unseeing
    unseen
    undistinguished
    unrecognized

    this my whole endless life
    my unconquered wonder
    as I look down
    from where I float
    to smaller briefer flecks
    subatomic particles
    spin in a cloud-chamber
    beneath me fly about fast
    seek their own liberation
    into the unimaginable

    Be well, Dana.

    Nathan

  2. Delightful archetype. With a twist. Your twa corbies give you and your doppelganger passage/exit from the flux of time. And with a bit of inflation:
    i.e. harem. The hypnopomp interrupted by desire ?
    But apparently the good Dr. has a few wares to hawk at the crafts fair ayet
    before reclining in that planked dory, all its joints “on the slant” per the
    Faulknerian specs.

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