The table was well lit by the morning light that came through the doors. The man was looking out the doors at the grass which was frost-tipped and brittle-looking in the cold. The plate before him was full. His wife was done eating and was feeding their eleven-month-old son. At the far end of the table the four-year-old daughter said, “May I be excused?”
"A couple more bites," said the woman.
"But I'm full."
"Fine," and the woman ignored the girl as she slid away. The man turned to his wife and said, “I had a bad dream.” The woman was silent. At last she said, “Are you going to tell me about it?”
“I want to.”
“I think you should.”
“I might blather.”
“You won’t. But if you don’t want to tell me about it I understand.”
They were at the table. The man was watching the afternoon like lava spread over the lawn. The woman said to him, “I wish you would tell me about your dream.” And the man thought, I have caught a butterfly and have pressed it and now am ready to share it. He said, “I dreamed I was pushing a wheelbarrow full of body parts, arms and hands, fingers, feet. I dump the limbs in a ditch and bury them....”
Finally she said, “What a horrible dream.”
“It’s probably something you saw on TV.”
“I don’t think so.”
She stared at him.
He said, “Walt Whitman wrote a poem titled The Wound-Dresser. I read it this morning. I had been carrying the dream thinking it was a memory from a past life or something crazy like that. Now I think I know better.” Peeking over at her he thought she was examining him like he was a rare insect. He went on, “I think our thoughts give off a signal, that our thoughts are broadcast on an invisible wavelength into the universe.”
“Interesting,” the woman said, staring at her husband, blindly guiding a bite in the direction of the baby and missing his mouth.
The man said, “Walt Whitman was in his early twenties during the Civil War, and worked in the tents as a nurse-aid.” He leaned back. “I think I caught some of the stress he sent off during the war. Like it is all floating up there, and somehow I breathed some in.” He looked at his wife. She stared back at him. In her eyes was a searching. The boy said, “More,” and tapped his fingers, and without looking she guided a bite of fish into his mouth.