Barbara McGraw

Spotlight: Dreamscape & Meditations on an Altered State


In a bed
in an ink-wash of night sky
a Chagall dreamer rises
An omniscient moon
hovers above the pines

Close by
tops of gentled branches
caress her face
The smell of pitch resonates
The sleeper dreams

peaked roofs
undulate in snow
shutters hinged for wind
lift but hold
Across the moonlit sidewalk
a shadow falls
The dreamer flies

a red sheath billows
moonbeams illumine
bare legs trail
like comets
The flier smiles

light crackles
and leaps
through nebulas
Brimming stars
whistle and hum
rush and whisper
The voyager listens

rollicking spinner
spiraling twirler
a heart-breaking lightness
an exhilarating brightness
The sleeper wakes


Meditations on an Altered State

The doctor says
Mother has a
hole in her head
right next to the shunt
he put in last September
Months have passed
and she’s aged,
ravaged, replaced
by this Alzheimer’s
wreck in a wheelchair

Talk flows above her
of fluid shifts
of infection
suggestions for repairs
Trim the hairs
around it
and keep it clean
The sinkhole draws
our attention

I scissor-cut
around the spot
lightly blowing
on the hairs
She’s cautioned
to stay still
Her little girl’s voice
says, alright

Father lives in
an altered state
sustained by
her cresting moods
He swims on the waves
of her scattered fears
confused thoughts
During narcoleptic
days and nights
he sloughs off
the seconds of her disease

The three of us are
lurid in lamplight
as Mother
drags us from
bed to sofa in
unceasing rotations
Father faces her hallucinations
as he would a beast
Lost-eyed and lumbering
with no grace in sight
he finds solace
in her disconsolate face

Barbara McGaw is a retired teacher who lives with her family in Freeland, at the southern edge of Michigan’s northern forest. She is the 2011 recipient of the Abbie Copps Prize for Poetry, awarded for her poem, “A Stone Heart.” Her work has been featured in literary publications nationwide. Barbara’s poems have appeared in Blast Furnace, Dark Matter, Foliate Oak, Ginosko, Livid Squid, Pudding, and Stone Highway.

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