only in dreams

Last night I revisited an island I have been to before, but only in dreams. This island, which I know quite intimately now, does not correspond to any real place I have ever been. Nor does it appear to be made up syncretically of details of real places I have been. I never know how I come to be on the island, nor how I might leave. The only shores I see are the northern shores, towards which I am always making my way. I did not realise until last night that there are thermal springs there ... on another visit I remember travelling north in fear of wild animals, as if the island were somewhere off the coast of primordial Europe, but last night they were absent; instead, it was a festive time, people celebrating, going to the beach, exploring, eating and drinking. My children were there, friends and, by the end, my whole birth family in a happy ensemble. There is far more detail than this, of course, but I will not relate it because, as we all know, there is nothing more boring than listening to prolonged narrative accounts of other peoples' dreams. This is probably because it is very difficult to convey the emotion(s) of a dream, intensely and entirely idiosyncratic as they are.

No, what intrigues me is the existence of this particular place as an aspect of my consciousness - for what else could it be? The island of the dead? Is that why my father and mother and sister were there? An island of the blest perhaps? So it felt last night, though not always before. And if I think hard about it, the landscape was different, more antipodean perhaps, than on previous occasions; yet the geography, the map if you like, was the same, to the extent that I could choose to take another fork in the road on my journey north, go to another shore than that I visited last time. This because I was looking for my sons, who had gone ahead without us; and I did not think they would have been at that other beach. And I was right too, for we found them soon after, near the estuary. And then went back to the reunion. For this dream always ends with a return.

Now, thinking about it, I want to make that return. But I can't. It is a place to which I can be transported only involuntarily. It will wait there, wherever there is, for weeks, months, years until I am allowed (until I allow myself?) - what? Latitude? Permission? Or is it grace?

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