Dreamwork or Love

Your girlfriend breaks up with you

in a dream because you can’t keep

the sheets kicking like you used to.

You wake at the pink light of dawn

over a mountain that is not home.


Your girlfriend is home in the city

asleep with your dogs and your sheets

that smell of four years together, no matter

how vigorously you wash them. She wears

her old blue sweatpants and her breath is


as it always is at dawn. You are hours away

taking care of your art and she is, as usual,

caring for everything else. In this antebellum

house it is so quiet your brain jumbles thought

into everything and nothing at once. In the dream,


you thought the two of you finally found

that spark again. But she pulled back

into the dark sticky matter of imagination

that you’ll never again be able to reach.

You sat naked on the bed and it was also


a kitchen. She was into you—one hand on

your inner thigh, finger barely tempting

neglected lips—and distracted. You ruin

the moment by making it therapy so she calls

her Navy friend to come pick her up. Let’s


hang out, she asks and there he is

with a bottle of whiskey. You reach

for her, swear you’ll shut your mouth,

but now you’re at brunch without money

and there are dogs tied up across the street.


They are about to pull away from their leashes.


Tara Shea Burke is from Virginia and lives in the East Mountains of New Mexico with her partner, their dogs, cat, and goats. She has an MFA from Old Dominion University, served as poetry editor for The Quotable and Barely South Review, and volunteers for and guest edits Sinister Wisdom, a Multicultural Lesbian Literature and Arts Journal. Her chapbook Let the Body Beg was published by ELJ Publications in 2014. Published poems can be found in The Fourth River, Prime Number Magazine, Adrienne out of Sibling Rivalry Press, and are forthcoming from Yellow Chair Review. Find more at http://tarasheaburke.wordpress.com/