In the God’s Dreams

by James Laughlin

James Laughlin

Am I a character in the dreams
of the god Hermes the messenger?
Certainly many of my dreams
have nothing to do with the
common life around me. There
are never any automobiles or
airplanes in them. These
dreams belong to an age in
the distant past, to a time
perhaps when nothing was
written down, to the
time of memory.

I chose Hermes not out of
vanity but because from what
I’ve read about him he had a
pretty good time, was not
just a drunkard on Olympus.
In his traipsings delivering
divine messages he must have
met some pretty girls who
gave him pleasure. We know
that he invented the lyre
for the benefit of poets,
and Lucian relates in his
Dialogues of the Dead that
he was the god of sleep
and dreams.

My dreams are not frightening,
they are not nightmares. But
their irrationality puzzles
me. What is Hermes trying to
tell me? Is he playing a game
with me? Last Monday night
I dreamt about a school for
young children who had heads
but no bodies. Last night it
was a cow that was galloping
in our meadow like a horse.
Another night, and this one
was a bit scary, I swam across
the lake with my head under
water, I didn’t have to breathe air.

What is the message of these
dreams? Into what kind of world
is Hermes leading me? It’s not
the world described daily in the
New York Times. A world of
shadows? A kind of levitation?

How can I pray to Hermes to lay
off these senseless fantasies,
tell him that I want real dreams
such as my shrink can explicate.

I’ve looked up lustration in
the dictionary. Its definition
is not encouraging: “a prefatory
ceremony, performed as a preliminary
to entering a holy place.” That’s
too impersonal. I want a man-to-man
talk with Hermes, telling him to
stop infesting my nights with
his nonsense.

Last updated November 02, 2022