a plate of shrimp

last night i had a dream where i was trying to take a shower
that wasn’t the whole dream of course
i was in chicago with my (dream) girlfriend for some sort of conference
there were students there too
and other teachers

it was the last morning of the conference
sunday morning
time to get ready to go home
my girlfriend had just dumped me for the fourth time
and was considering getting together with me again
so she’d left me alone in the hotel room

i realized i hadn’t taken a shower
i had been wearing the same clothes the whole weekend
this was the fourth day
so it was time to get naked
take my shower
get dressed
get to the bus

but i was stuck on that first part

for one thing
people kept coming in my room
the door wouldn’t lock right
and so people would just pop in
i was getting ruder and ruder

there were two students who had decided to just sit on my bed
they were exchange students
a brother and a sister
they were from the college class i was taking
i let them stay
they were talking to each other and mostly ignoring me

but i digress

i was trying to take a shower
so i kept taking articles of clothing off
and every time i thought i was naked
i realized i still had something else on

there was a puffy winter coat that i’d found after i’d taken my sweater off
and several shirts underneath that
i took great pains to take the enamel pins off the lapel of the coat
even though they were affixed nice and firm
and the coat wasn’t in need of washing

as i was taking off one shirt i realized there was another one on top of it
and the last shirt was stuck to me
with sweat
or maybe because i’d never taken it off before

when digging down to my core self
i have used the metaphor of an onion
peeling back the layers
layer upon layer
but what if that’s all there is?
layer upon layer

we peel garlic and then realize
okay here we are at the meat
the good stuff
the stuff that makes this garlic

we peel corn
set aside the husks and the fluff
all the protective stuff
all that camouflage
and we find the brightness
the sweetness
the kernels that made us want to dig in the first place

but ultimately
onions are just layers upon layers
some edible some not
but still just layers

but i am not an onion
i am an ear of corn
i have a last shirt to remove
and then i will be naked

and in need of a shower


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