These fish have no eyes
these silver fish that come to me in dreams,
scattering their roe and milt
in the pockets of my brain.
But there's one that comes--
heavy, scarred, silent like the rest,
that simply holds against the current,
closing its dark mouth against
the current, closing and opening
as it holds to the current.
Fear of seeing a police car pull into the drive.
Fear of falling asleep at night.
Fear of not falling asleep.
Fear of the past rising up.
Fear of the present taking flight.
Fear of the telephone that rings in the dead of night.
Fear of electrical storms.
Fear of the cleaning woman who has a spot on her cheek!
Fear of dogs I've been told won't bite.
Fear of anxiety!
Fear of having to identify the body of a dead friend.
Fear of running out of money.
Fear of having too much, though people will not believe this.
Fear of psychological profiles.
Fear of being late and fear of arriving before anyone else.
Fear of my children's handwriting on envelopes.
Fear they'll die before I do, and I'll feel guilty.
Fear of having to live with my mother in her old age, and mine.
Fear of confusion.
Fear this day will end on an unhappy note.
Fear of waking up to find you gone.
Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.
Fear that what I love will prove lethal to those I love.
Fear of death.
Fear of living too long.
Fear of death.
I've said that.
I woke up with a spot of blood
over my eye. A scratch
halfway across my forehead.
But I'm sleeping alone these days.
Why on earth would a man raise his hand
against himself, even in sleep?
It's this and similar questions
I'm trying to answer this morning.
As I study my face in the window.
*(Want to read the first installment in a previously unreleased Raymond Carver story? Click here to read "Kindling," brought to you by Esquire magazine.)
Use of this excerpt from All of Us may be made only for purposes of promoting the book, with no changes, editing, or additions whatsoever, and must be accompanied by the following copyright notice: Copyright © 1996 by Tess Gallagher. All rights reserved.
Photo credit: Marion Ettlinger