I See In My Dreams

Apparently, over these last few strange weeks, more people than ever are dreaming and remembering their dreams. Some say it’s because we are sleeping longer in the days of lockdown; that we’re dropping into deeper REM sleep when we would otherwise be getting up with the alarm.  Others say it’s the psyche flushing out silos of anxiety that have filled to flowing over the course of the day as dark vestiges of news we hear, read, and see cling to us.  I’ve begun to wake early with the birds when I’d really rather sleep for another hour or so.  I tell myself not to listen to their chirping and to tune back into sleep, but the moment I tell myself anything, I have lost; my mind has cranked up and the wakefulness has won.  By that stage there’s enough waking in me to make a cup of tea and do last night’s dishes before going back to bed (if I’m lucky) for a second sleep.  I wake from my bonus nap and wonder if I dreamed getting up to wash last night’s pan and plate and glass.  Yes, I’m dreaming more too.  Some are comforting dreams, some less so, although all of them – I’m sure – are serving a function.  After all, the pathway out of a nightmare always begins with a dream.

Homesickness used to blight me when I was younger.  Like spring vegetables transplanted too early I withered when I was uprooted.  I spent two weeks in France when I was fifteen with a family on a school exchange and it nearly killed me.  My friends were all having a great time.  They seemed to be born hardened off, needing no time in the greenhouse before being transplanted somewhere else and taking root.  And I was so envious at their adaptability.  I didn’t know how to unshackle myself from the invisible rope pulling me home.  It is a proper affliction, homesickness, and I was well on in years before all symptoms subsided.  It has never reappeared, not to the extent of when I was a youth, but lately I have a deep gnawing to get home.  Each afternoon I take to my living room floor and lie in a shaft of sunlight.  I say I’m doing yoga stretches, pilates moves, that I’m meditating.  The truth is, I am dreaming of trips to Ireland.

I read this week that Hollywood actor, Matt Damon is isolating with his family in Dalkey.  That he’d been shooting a film in Ireland when everything ground to a halt and so he stayed put in the South Dublin village.  I read delightful reports of him with his bag-for-life in the local SuperValu buying bread and cheese, same as everyone else.  At first the local’s thought they were dreaming.  Now’s he’s just Matt the Yank – ‘a quare civil fella’.  He’s a nobody now, and he’s everybody, in a world we couldn’t have dreamed up one hundred days ago.

My dreams of going to Ireland aren’t taking me to lovely Dalkey, even with Matt Damon being there.  My dreams take me north.  I’m walking the hill down to Whitepark Bay as rabbits disappear into the dunes ten steps ahead of me.  I’m watching the first swoop of swallows skim the grass around the little white cottage at Murlough Bay. I’m pulling my hat down over my ears at the tip of Ramore Head on an evening when the horizon drinks the sun.  And maybe I’m climbing up Slemish – it’s been a long time – and looking east to tell Scotland that I’ve made it over.  They’re not elaborate dreams, but right now they are no more attainable for their simplicity.

For the time being, I’ll just see these places in my dreams: sleep, dream, wake, begin again.


The Blue Hills of Antrim (traditional song)

The blue hills of Antrim I see in my dreams

The high hills of Antrim, the glens and the streams

In sunlight and shadow, in weal and in woe

The sweet vision haunts me wherever I go


Slieve Trostan’s in shadow and Glenann in tears

Looks sorrowing up at her love through the years

That sad look at Trostan I cannot forget

My heart pines in darkness, my lashes are wet


Red dawn is at breaking and Slieve Mish is glad

In smiles to the green fields and fallow of Brand

Craighilly is waking from night’s dewy sleep

And Kella’s young streams with my new pulses leap


The blue hills of Antrim I see in my dreams

The high hills of Antrim, the glens and the streams

In the sunlight and shadow, in weal and in woe

The sweet vision haunts me wherever I go


3 thoughts on “I See In My Dreams

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