When the soul wishes to experience something she throws an image of the experience out before her and then enters into her own image. – Meister Eckhart
What is the very first dream you remember having?
Whether it was a vivid nightmare or simply the first one you ever told someone else, whatever dream came to mind when you read the question above is probably significant and the one you should use for this exercise. It may contain elements that have since carried over into subsequent or recurring dreams, and possibly offers images that still haunt or amaze you.
Write out your first dream in as much detail as you can remember as if you had just had it a moment ago. Remember to record a dream in the first person narrative and in the present tense, as if it were happening to you at this moment. (“I am walking hand in hand with my mother at the market. We have stopped at a stall of oranges. A huge wild dog runs down the sidewalk toward us...”)
When you have it all down, take a break and walk away from the page for a while. Have a drink of water.
Returning, read your dream and make the following lists based on the dream’s content:
1. People: siblings, parents, strangers
2. Actions/verbs: running, swimming, sinking, watching TV
3. Places: your room, a house you’ve never been in, the bottom of a pool, a sidewalk
4. Elements of nature: water, a wild dog, a pine tree, a storm
5. Sensations: the feeling of cold, the sound of laughter, the smell of oranges
6. Emotions: anger, fear, love, loneliness
7. Nouns/objects: pillow, a snail’s shell, a new sweater, a bowl of flowers
8. Modifiers: slow, tall, blue, ugly, strange, wild, old
Most dreams won’t have too many elements in every list, but be as complete as you can.
Go through your lists and circle about ten words or phrases that appeal to you now.
Now, write a poem of any kind, on any topic, using the words and phrases you’ve chosen.
Consider becoming the voice of one of the people or objects in your dream. What does the wild dog have to say to you, to your mother, to the oranges in the stall? Or to you now, as an adult?
Extra credit for not using the word “dream” anywhere.