Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The Calm and Pointless Water by Patrick Dundon

The Calm and Pointless Water

During a trip to Paris, I dreamt my therapist texted me a YouTube clip of a goat lost on a bridge. It was standing on an open grate over calm and pointless water, confused, no food in sight. You are the goat, she wrote me, next to three laugh-cry emojis. I woke up feeling sad and validated. “Am I really the goat?” I asked Anna as we crossed the Boulevard St. Germain, and she winced at the relentless beauty of the buildings. “Of course you are,” she said impassively while looking for a gap in the traffic. The night before, I’d slept with Guillaume, a fashion photographer I met on Grindr, in his attic apartment. His mustache was made of two tiny triangles, like the kind in the mosaic puzzles I used to assemble as a kid. I loved the satisfaction when all the angles fit together. We drank lemonade out of mugs and petted his cat, Dexter, and when a Smiths song came on he told me it reminded him of me, which I chose to believe meant we were in love, just for a second. He shoved together two twin-sized futon mattresses so we could cuddle while we slept. That night I dreamt I was being held by an anonymous man whose face kept changing, like a revolving door: my ex, my father, Mitch, my old poetry teacher, Guillaume. He kept one hand at the base of my navel, the other on my chest. I woke in the gap between mattresses, tried to shimmy them back together, but couldn’t. My therapist once told me we are everything we dream. So I am the goat, the bridge, the calm and pointless water, the laugh-cry emojis, the anonymous man, the changing face, the steady hands. I told this to Anna once we were safely on the other side of the street. “Nope, I think you’re just the goat,” she told me. I didn’t tell her I agreed.

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