[I Dreamed, I Slept]
Rachel Jamison Webster

[I Dreamed, I Slept]

[Editor's Note: "[I Dreamed, I Slept]" is taken from a manuscript entitled Mary is a River and is written in the imagined voice of Mary Magdalene.]

I dreamed, I slept.

I traveled into the folds
of the earth and my hair thinned

and my body, until I became more
breath than form.

Only then did I begin my return
to the light that filters the world.

Speaking like this, thumbing for a stem of truth,
is like trying to find a fossil.

I locate the ridge where the vertebrae was,
blow away dust of stomach,

epistles, a village, and what
is underneath is not so much a body

but a movement, a drum of the blood.

I step in again, become a river

stirring history’s silt, sliding over
stories slick with sludge and with moss.

I’ll have to wear them down
to before I was.

Before he was.
Before we humans moved out

across the land in rivulets
branching up and over

the cracked hand.

Rachel Jamison Webster

directs the Creative Writing Program at Northwestern University. She is author of the books September and The Endless Unbegun, and her poems and essays have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Tin House, Poetry, The Paris Review, and Narrative.