Ellora Sutton

Ellora Sutton

Dream Interpretation

Last night I dreamt I gave birth to ten thousand swans,
I tell my therapist 
but that’s too gentle,
it was more like an atomic bomb had detonated in the vestibule of my self 
and cloud, soft as hills, dilated 
fanned out 
into swans, glowing swans, singed and howling,
ten thousand of them

and then I realise I’m still dreaming 
because I don’t have a therapist, I spend all my money
on lipsticks that I take home and snap open and twist and realise 
oh shit I’ve got ten thousand of this shade, this exact shade
my own unhealed knuckle, a colour like the bastard child
of an apricot and pomegranate but the pomegranate only visits every other Sunday
only when it remembers, poor shredded little aril, my knuckle, I mean – 
I have a hundred such lipsticks waiting in the white drawer
patient as oil in a pan or underground, patient as knives 
or feathers. Patient as pills in their foil or forest spirits, 
hard liquor and dry ice, oil, rice, erotic as a bag of rice 
all the grains touching rubbing against each other all over like one great shifting body
like the way one burger contains the bits of several different cows, I want to be close 
and enmeshed like that. I ask her, 

my dream-therapist, do other animals bruise 
or is it just humans and fruit? And then I realise 
she’s Marie Curie, so I ask Marie Curie, I saw on TikTok, is it true
your body will still be radioactive in fifteen hundred years’ time? 
Is it safe for me to be here sipping milk from your antiquarian porcelain breast-pump? 
Marie Curie, how is radiation like swans, 
ten thousand of them? 

I am so overwhelmed all the god-fucked time, 
she says in a voice almost unlike my mother’s,
like mine, and I say Mother, I want to turn your ashes into glitter glue. 
I would like that, I would have liked that, 
why haven’t you? O Mother I am so sad so sad it feels like 
your broken neck, your crushed vertebrae all over again at the model village 
and disappointing ice cream and my childish hatred of suncream and then 
my old secondary school counsellor asks me if I have a plan and I do, I do have a plan –

to wake up, 
sip hot mint tea,
stare into the toaster’s orange wing-like slit, 
touch my throat, look online 
at paintings of swans, 
tell you all of this, the spring
-onion layers of my dreaming, 
and realise I am still asleep, 
perforated like a car after a shoot-out 
by light, ten thousand swans 
of light, 

by none of this
being real.

ELLORA SUTTON, she/her, is a queer poet from Hampshire. Her poems have been published by The Poetry Review, fourteen poems, and Interpreter’s House, amongst others. She reviews poetry for Mslexia, and tweets @ellora_sutton.