"I am nothing but words,
just a shape
of dreams or night."
Her? Jottings on paper, forgotten photographs left between diary pages, blood thrumming with nicotine. She regards her reflection in a window: a blue dress, shaggy self-cut hair, a mouth saying a name. When evening comes, the glass between her and the garden reflects the bookshelves set against the back wall, framing her; both garden and library, she's the stuff of books, tattooed with leaves and flowers shimmering in the sulphured darkness.
The woman is caught in meshes of time, interwoven memories of certain objects and places: skyscrapers, solitary beaches on western coasts, limestone hills speckled with Neolithic deadhouses. European palaces converted into temples devoted to that last sacred object, the art work. Red North African landscapes, cattle egrets rising above shepherds in one great flock. Suburbs in parched hills, like citadels auguring doom; one man's paradise, a desert. City streets swollen with crowds in fancy dress; her youth, a series of masks. A Victorian attic, haunted by a ginger cat.
The mental images become spells, shifting attention from the everyday, to the sites of the past, made strange by geographical and temporal distance. She walks through the streets of the small town in a dreamy daze, recalling friends, lovers, and incidents. She remembers the feelings she had in those other, faraway places, like a space alien encountering the curious artefacts of a weird civilisation.
What did Ann say that night last winter before she died? Did I dream it? Ann had wondered if a place she had remembered was a dream, something conjured by the fog induced by cancer treatments. Maybe it was both, real and phantasm, an intermingling of actual and imagined or subconscious contents. In remembering, we rebuild the homes of the past; in dreaming, their true meaning may become more apparent.