Once I woke up with the actual gilded horns
of a cuck and you admired them and assured me
I need not fear dreams that pass through the horned
gates, but then I turned into a yellow cowfish,
flopping on the bed, and you picked me up
by my small horns and flushed me down the toilet.
Once I believed myself to be a cuckoo when, in fact,
I was a pair of binoculars looking at a cuckoo. I hung
around your neck, swaying on the drive home, where
you left me on the seat. There, I turned into a mote
of dust. The next day, you sat in silence – the churring
call of a nightjar outside – while I nested in your eye.
Once I was a cucumber and you pretended I was
useful, but when I said I was a gurke – speaking
German fluently – you tried to pickle me.
I remember wanting to turn into a kitten or
something cute but ended up as a novelty
keychain for a real estate broker called Big Dick’s.
Once I was the chlorine in a public swimming pool
and I flowed into the open gills of a young woman
who I believed to be my mother, before it occurred
to me that my mother isn’t young and doesn’t have
gills. I turned into a macrophage and was able
to see that the woman I believed to be my mother
was addled with cancer so I started to eat my way
through every cell I came across. Not because
I wanted to save her, but because it tasted good.
Once Europe was a market square and though it
wasn’t market day I had come to sit and drink hot
chocolate and listen to the buskers, one of whom
was singing Schumann’s Dichterliebe, which
for some reason you thought was Bleeding Love.
It’s not, I said, but later I heard Leona Lewis’s
voice in the flapping of the pigeons outside
The National Museum. The exhibits, on loan,
had been replaced by photographs. Each time
I tried to touch them, they moved. You better back
the fuck off, said the security guard. I turned
into a boy and girl who had lost their parents
and we hugged each other, crying.
Once the rain fell in vertical
girders and I thought I could
walk between them, pressing
my cheek against their cold
surface, but a mansion
rose about me several floors
high and a voice called,
telling me to leave. Father,
I said, why have you forsaken
me? I turned into a great
eyeball, but still he looked
away, so I turned into
a frog and slipped without
a sound into a millpond.
Once I was not myself or another man or either of
their lips exactly but the expression of a kiss they shared
and, at first, I have to say it was beautiful, but then
I felt myself turning into – or, no, recognising
myself as – a desert flower, which was even better.