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Waking Up In Earth's 2020's

What is it to dream ourselves awake?

By April BenczePublished about a year ago 3 min read
A dreamer's self-portrait

I dreamt of coho salmon and secrets. Of the tide going out and a world drained dry. The ghosts of mighty rivers, lakes, and oceans howled naked in great craters; existing now only to those left to remember. Bottoms of former bodies of water lay bare, while a few red coho could be seen shining like stars in the muck. I scrambled down the steep trough to scoop up and return the stranded fish to the water, if I could ever find it again. Fat, stunningly beautiful fish wriggled in my embrace. My arms became slippery, and adorned with dark red scales. Scales the colour of spent venous blood returning to a heart.

Men came rushing in to take command with an abrasiveness that filled me with the ferocity of a mother guarding her young. I bared my teeth in warning, but they were too many. They pried the salmon from my arms with the intention of killing and cutting up the fish with a coldness I could not bear. I, too, was hungry for flesh, but not this. Not like this. I wanted for the coho to be hidden safely beneath blankets of dark water so they could fulfil their purpose here on earth; to spawn, to die, to become again. The men would not hear me.

They took the fish. I was left on my knees in the mud of the crater. My arms empty and heart heavy with a life’s worth of words I would never say. The everlasting ebb tide did not reveal the burdens in my heart, as it had exposed the fish. A part of me wished it had. An outspoken part of me wanted these untold truths to lay naked on the riverbed, gasping. And perhaps, even beautiful in their humanity. There, I might hold them with care until they died in my arms. Until they decomposed into soil from which new life might grow.

I woke instead. In the waking world, catastrophic floods and an earth in crisis encircled me while remaining just out of sight. Roadways demolished by the sheer force of water and falling earth. Entire towns drowned. Houses filled with secrets of their own melted by muddy and relentless water. Oh, the things we will never know. Oh, the fish who have lost their way home.

The lunar eclipse is whispering, “Let go”. It is begging us not to carry the sopping burdens of yesterday. I hear the call of the barn owl at midnight echoing the lunar wisdom. The moon gently directs us to unfurl our grip so we can use our hands instead to tread water amidst the wreckage of our lives. But I can hardly hear the cosmos over the shouting.

Yesterday I asked the moon for clarity and today I wake with mud up to my chest, arms slimy with blood-red scales, and salted cheeks. It is clear to me what it is to exist in the chaos of today - muddy and uncertain. Yet, I am here. In safety, just far enough from the floods, from the ashes of the summer wildfires. I don’t know what to make of it all. I don’t know what else to do but rise and begin a new day full of old responsibilities. I look out the window to find the ocean where it was yesterday. I know nearby, the coho are dying where they were destined to. They rest eternal like fallen stars scattered upon tributary beds, spent from spawning. The coho rest as well in the bellies of bears, while their eggs lay buried in redds to anticipate a coming spring. My hope lays buried with them.

It is time for me now to get out of bed and begin again. Because despite it all, I am given the gift of a new day on this achingly beautiful and broken earth.


About the Creator

April Bencze

Ḵwiḵwa̱sut'inux̱w Ha̱xwa'mis First Nation territory (Gilford Island, BC, Canada). Creekwalker. Writer. A lover of plants, rivers, the interconnectedness of all things, and the woods.


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