4

 I am exploring a large mound of what seems to be earth lightly covered with snow, striated with linear depressions, like crevasses. Bill and other grad students are watching and talking to me as I grope. Suddenly I fall through the crust of snow into a hollow under the mound, a dome filled with darkness, dust, dirt and decay. I am suffocating and slipping deeper into the filth, as if drowning, and realize that no one can help me...
 For some reason I am discussing the renal glands and their role in endocrine function, and I'm beckoned into a barn by a man who wants to dissect them for me. But inside is a black man being hoisted in the air, belly down, by four chains attached to his elbows and ankles. "He was castrated in the same position," comments the man, and it does seem he has no genitals. In the background are some bleachers with spectators. Then I realize the man is alive, and my consciousness fills with his face, handsome and reasonable, floating bodiless in space. He says that he is eager to get deeper into his life and he asks the dissecters not to do this. I feel the dissection is a punishment or execution for not being "deep into his life." His pleas became more urgent and from his straining voice I can feel the knife cutting into his back, into his organs. He isn't a cadaver, he is being murdered. He speaks calmly but tense with unbearable pain, as if showing the pain would only incite his torturers. As I watch I suffocate with indecision, panic, and anger. I can't move...
 We have to rescue a space traveler who had been sent up in a space capsule as part of a test or a training exercise. But I realize our space suits are not very safe: the gloves are the plastic disposable kind used for dusting, and the face masks are plastic bags. I'm afraid: if I go into space like that I will die. Bill is helping me dress and tells me that the clothes won't matter if we rescue him quickly. But I feel afraid. Maybe it isn't "we" at all: maybe it's only me to make the trip...
 I am in the Soviet Union, in a college or high school classroom - a very long room, the entire ceiling paneled in fluorescent lights, the walls high and windowless. I stare down at my hands on the formica covered desk and try to imagine what a life in such tedious, sterile rooms would be like. Then, in a packed lecture room, perhaps an English class. The professor, a youngish and excitable man, enters and begins to speak. He pounds vehemently on the microphone to get it to work, and I laugh. But something is wrong with this classroom, and I get up to leave...
 Walking north, in the north part of the country, to a lake shore or beach. A stony island in the distance, the dark water, and divers working off a boat. I ask someone about the lake or the island, but am walking back down the road before I hear the answer. Feel pursued or watched - someone following me - and I duck into a large public lavatory that is all mirrors, a hall of mirrors...
 Jan and I are standing on the lawn of our new home, looking down the hillside to our grove of trees, to the distant Freestone hills, to the sunset over the ocean, and I worry that the house will slide down the hill in an earthquake, fret that the well will go dry, question whether this is the right decision...