In the dream, I was watching a hockey game between some local kids who had managed to get some ice time. Truth be told, I’m not much of a hockey fan, but it seemed that my brothers were playing, and I was just a kid without nothing better to do.
There was a girl on the ice who was outplaying the older boys by an almost ridiculous margin, scoring at will and essentially having the rink to herself. She didn’t wear a helmet, but given that no one could catch her, she really didn’t need to.
She didn’t suit up for the second period. Instead, she walked up into the stands, one or more rows in front of me, and tried to speak.
“I’d like to read a poem,” she said to the sound of skates. Nobody stopped.
“Would you like me to try?” I offered, not sure how I thought I might improve the situation. I suppose I was trying to show off.
She handed me a sheet of paper with messy scrawl, decorated with doodles. It took me a few seconds to figure out where it began, and where it would go from there, but I boomed it out as well as I could. Midway through the ordeal, I realized I was reading a poem about how much she missed her college roommate. The booming voice was definitely overkill, so I switched to a much softer tone. The players stopped, and listened.
I stopped when I got to the end, and play unceremoniously resumed.
“You missed the last line” she said. I was mortified.
“It’s fine,” she said. “It turned out great. Thank you for reading it.”
We had to exit the rink through the changing room, where the kids were all talking about her.
“Even Joe scored when she left the game,” referring to my youngest brother. They grew silent when they realized she was there.
I asked her if she ever read in public, in front of other people. She confessed that the very thought terrified her. I tried to encourage her.
“Not that you’re necessarily writing for other people, but when you read in front of a crowd you get to see what works, and what doesn’t.”
Wasn’t I the expert! I started to get self-conscious, realizing that the other kids were watching me. Then I asked her if she was familiar with haiku. I recited my favorite translation of the Basho classic.
the old pond…
a frog jumps into
the sound of water
She leaned forward to give me a kiss.