I don’t want to believe Bruno Kirby was closer to me than you ever were

by A. J. Bradley

I used to have psychic dreams a lot

though not many anymore
sometimes predictions months in advance
some minor everyday acts, some
regarding B-list celebrities
for instance
the guy who played Billy Crystal’s best friend in When Harry Met Sally
I dreamt of him briefly,
doing what, I don’t remember,
woke up confused
I hadn’t watched that film in years,
then heard that afternoon he had died the same day, learned
his name was Bruno Kirby

once I dreamt I placed a cake in my parents’ refrigerator,
just that, that’s all
opened the door in real-life morning and
there it was, almost as imagined, brought back from a family party, I had no idea
I don’t particularly like cake
I don’t think about cake that much even when conscious

once I dreamt, before my last year of college, girls
I would soon live with in an old Victorian
would become angry with me because food I cooked smoked too much or smelled
too strongly
I laughed this off: no one gets in fights about that, until
months into autumn, everyone was leaving me notes about oil on stovetops, how
I almost burned down the house with eggs, commenting on lamb chops,
salmon, rice,
how it made our house smell for hours
they all tended to eat
toast with jam
or cereal or things
leaving no trace
we are all still friends now, though,
in our newfound fourth decade, online
where we leave each other sweet messages and inside jokes on birthdays and holidays
sometimes
if we remember

note: M’s sister dreamt the Sandy Hook shootings were happening
as they were happening
I am grateful I don’t have a dream story like that
I don’t ever want to have one

most recent, I dreamt H and I reconciled the very night
he had been writing me to reconcile
and for our first phone call in over six years so see
some of these
can end well

even my mother dreamt of you, though you will never meet each other
this was around the last time I saw you
I was with someone with hair like yours
in a house that wasn’t a house but a thrift store
we were shopping for jackets
she liked a black one on me but you liked a white,
so I chose that instead
she noticed an elephant laying down outside a window, just before finding
another room
carpeted with piles of elephant shit

‘But of course,’
she said to me, ‘none of this has anything to do with you.’

at this point I told her that same week you had brought me a small notebook
from your trip abroad, embroidered
with an elephant on its cover
how I thought its pages were made of that special paper formed of elephant shit, dried to a pulp
flattened and actually
really beautiful and grainy
and delicate once finished

what I didn’t tell her was
I had texted you a few days after you gave it to me
how your hands had shook like paper too as you presented it
in my message I asked
if you knew anything about notebook paper made from shit

you never texted me back,
even though you had just brought me a gift
flown above oceans across the world
I guess that was the moment
I knew who the fuck I was dealing with

I have had one million one hundred twenty four dreams about you since
and those are just the ones I remember
you don’t need me to tell you, though with those kinds of numbers
odds should have been better
none of them ever did come true

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