birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

solve, dissolve, resolve

Solver: to loosen, unfasten. So: resolve. To loosen it again. And: dissolve, to “loosen apart,” put distance between the atoms, the belt like crushed comets orbiting far from the disappearing body. Age eats the muscles, not just the bones. It pulls the cotton cluster until it’s thin and thinner, until the fibers calm their tangles into lines, combed like rooster’s tail on the back of a head that rubbed a pillow all night, arranging the elements of dreams on the sheet: a compass diagramming death with the sweep of a pencil. The last time I had a compass I was in grade school bisecting angles. What does that have to do with dying? On the sheet: stub of a yellow pencil, shiny silver compass with its ice pick point, a blank sheet of paper, the word death.

But I was supposed to be resolving, loosening something that’s become stuck, probably, like the dreams in my head that are backed up like rush hour tail lights or memories. My plan is to hold out my hand and wait, figuring out what call would lure them, the dream equivalent of “here chicky chicky” or “here kitty kitty,” something friendly and gentle, though the dreams themselves may not be. It’s been so long since I remembered more than a trace of a dream. They hover, whispering to me as my eyes open in the morning, but my first thought is “Please god let me figure it out today” when I’m writing, and I’m so often writing. I could work backward, not call to the dreams at all, but call to the solution to the writing problem, “here chicky, here little thought, here little idea,” and perhaps wake in silence, pregnant with thoughts but somehow not yet thinking them, just riffling through images. For a long while I dreamed of landscapes that folded flat like bleacher seats in the high school gym as I crossed them. A black wolf bit my hand and I woke in pain. I stood in front of an auditorium to recite a poem that I had just forgotten. I floated.

Those are such old and vivid dreams, the photos in my mental dream book. I lay them in front of me like a tarot spread, shuffle them, reread them. I am the empress, the driver of the chariot, the glittery ten of cups and its rainbow. I’m the one of wolf-bitten hands, the page of earthquakes, the queen of trails with no endings. And if I do not recall tonight’s dream when I wake, I will shuffle the cards once more, reread the ongoing dream. That will be my resolution.