Dreaming in the Time of Corona

Dreaming in the Time of Corona

The tree offered the poet a key.
Expecting to find a door,
she circled the ancient oak elder
a number of times before
she spotted an open window,
high above the robin’s nest.

After climbing up and sliding
down the life-giving xylem,
past stories between the lines,
the poet landed in a chair
on an inner, heartwood balcony,
some dizzy moments later.

Seated before a circular library,
she noticed on each shelf
hundreds of yellowing books,
all dappled with light,
catching and releasing dreams
over each sleeping sentence.

It did not take long for her
to realise the shelves were filled
with every treasured tome
the poet had read in life so far,
books she had not seen
for years, decades, centuries.

Inside this dream tree sanctuary,
life had shuffled indoors.
With her memories quarantined,
waiting to be reawakened,
she knew there was nowhere
left to hide from herself.

On her left, winding steps led
to a red and black mandala,
a tower house of playing cards,
fallen in perfect symmetry.
As she stood at its centre point
she noticed two small doors.

Opening the green oaken door,
she saw a rack of clothes,
from maiden to mother to crone,
and a large ornate mirror
with an eternal, ageless Goddess
inside the glass, watching her.

Beyond the heavenly blue door
she saw a large oak desk,
behind it a little girl was seated
surrounded by fairy tales,
keys that unlocked the door to
her first map of the Soul.

As the poet turned to make her
way back up to the balcony,
at the very edge of her vision,
she noticed in the shadows
a dark, descending passageway,
its walls lit up with stars.

She was not surprised at all
when the oak-leaved Green Man
beckoned her to follow him.
Down to the tap root she went,
until she entered the dark womb
and spied her wife’s ring.

She saw the King of May gently
pick up the wedding band,
breathing new life through it
until fresh shoots sprouted,
as the poet fell, even deeper, into
the embrace of her dream.

There she met the healing spirit
of the Green Man’s eyes
and followed his gaze upwards
to the brightest star
that crowned the top of the tree.
She knew it was not her time.

Waking up inside the sanctuary
of her quarantined life,
this poet wonders if she dreamt
the tree, or the tree dreamt her,
that same ancient oak elder
where her wife fell sleeping.

As the poet listens to her wife stir,
the most beautiful sound
she has heard in her life thus far,
sweeter than the nightingale,
she unlocks the door to her heart,
dreaming in the time of corona.


Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2020

30 thoughts on “Dreaming in the Time of Corona

  1. This is magnificent. An opus, Deborah. You created a mythological story and I imagine spending years unpacking the symbolism. It took my mythology group over two years meeting every week to dig down and unpack the story of Eros and Psyche. I did the same myth later and even deeper in a week long workshop with Marion Woodman. Like that story, this feels like a soul initiation.

    Fussing over the vegetables is an excellent sign. May her recovery be smooth and gentle with you inside your tree. I feel so much hope and love for you and your wife. Blessings from my world where the cherries blossom and the bluebirds incubate eggs. The Green Man’s world.

    1. Thank you so much Elaine for your wonderful, kind-hearted response to my “dream” poem! I woke up in awe after the dream woodsman blew vines through the silver ring. Little did I know my wife would lose her (white gold) wedding ring in ancient woodland years later and then to collapse one year ago in another old woodland, in the very same calendar week! You couldn’t make it up!

      Yes, I imagine this will take years, if not lifetimes to unpack. The colours and textures of the dream were so rich. I remember inside the tree I could hear many birds singing even though I couldn’t see them and the woodsman looked a bit like Antony Hopkins. The “soul initiation” and “mythological stories” are such wonderful bedfellows! I hardly know where to start.

      Quarantine life continues here in the UK, although we are slightly easing lockdown and allowed to exercise more. Fussing is always a good sign and yesterday the poet’s wife even planted up more spinach, lamb’s lettuce and dwarf French beans. The garden has transformed into a green haven!

      Please know I’m thinking of you today (18th) and Lin and I will (slowly) be taking a walk to a very special oak elder later where I’ll recite my poem “The Goddess and Her Green Man” for you and your beloved Vic. Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

  2. What a gift you have! I love how you take us on a poetic journey in your dreamstory and elegantly guide us through the portal of the tree to a place of enchantment. The sanctuary within us filled with with wisdom and wholeness. Beautiful.

    1. Oh, thank you so much Pamela for your lovely, encouraging reply and a very warm welcome to my poetry and Jungian thought website. As you know, some dreams stay with us for a very long time, I think this one will stay with me for life. Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

  3. Wonderful, Deborah.

    This took my breath away. I wanted to read it slowly, but I couldn’t wait to reach the end, so I’ve read it again, and again.

    How I envy you that dappled library, ‘catching and releasing dreams’. That third stanza is beautiful.

    I wondered where you could possibly go from there. Every book you’ve ever read? Oh, what a dream…

    1. Thank you so much Cath for your wonderful comment, such high praise! I’m so pleased you enjoyed entering my dream tree sanctuary. I believe my imagination has gone into overtime during lockdown!

      Upon waking from the dream, I felt a strong intuition that this is true for all of us and that everyone holds their own “library” (however defined) and perhaps “wardrobe” within too.

      Hmm, now where will the Muse take me next I wonder? … A new mystery for sure! Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

    1. Wow! That’s such a compliment. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it! Thank you Jason for your visit today and generous response to my latest poem. Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

  4. Deborah, this poem is just beautiful. It is permeated with awe, passion, and love. Love for your wife, love for your waking and dreaming life, love for reading and imagination and fantasy and synchronicity and mystery. And love for your readers too. What beautiful, benevolent gifts your poems are. As is your poet’s soul.

    I’m so happy to hear your wife is recovering.

    With love and admiration, Jeanie

    1. Thank you so much Jeanie for your truly beautiful response, infused with much love and blessings. Upon waking from this dream I do remember the excitement of thinking, wow, there’s this place inside of me, a tree sanctuary where everything I’ve ever read and worn in life, and so much more, has been carefully stored away.

      Although I didn’t begin to understand those deeper connections and synchronicity at the end part … when the woodsman picked up the (lost then found) silver ring and blew new life through it until yesterday! Reminding me of that quote: “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved”

      My wife is slowly recovering and yesterday afternoon even pottered about in the garden, fussing over the vegetables … which I’m taking as a good sign! Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

  5. I love this poem Deborah – as Aladdin has said it is so Alice-like in your journey through the heartwood of the ancient oak elder to the very home of its seed and your wife’s ring. The influence of fairy tales and myths on your writing has obviously helped you write such a beautiful, poetic fairy tale of your own.

    I can imagine every stage expanded into an illustrated fairy tale with the Green Man, the gentle giant King of the Woods, at its centre, it is such a wonderful story that you have dreamt and now you have painted in words so beautifully. Yet your real life experience has intertwined with your dream and the question is – did you dream the tree or the tree dream you? A never ending question I think that can be expanded into life itself!

    Keeping our hearts unlocked is such a powerful key to living in these months of stress and anxiety and your words show the healing power of doing this in this worrying and challenging time of Corona. I am so pleased to hear the healing has helped your wife too.

    May you both continue to stay safe and well. Wishing you warm blessings, Sophia

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for such a warm, friendly, kind-hearted reply! The dream of entering the heart of the tree and discovering my own inner library there felt very fairy-tale like indeed! Your comment takes me straight into the small room with its heavenly blue door and those fairy tale books, my very first map of the Soul. Yes, fairy-tales and myths, especially the Greek Goddesses have influenced my work deeply over the years.

      How my unconscious (dream life) and conscious life came together last week was pure synchronicity! I’m still struggling to understand what really happened in the woods that day, and for it to happen beneath the ancient oak elder … there are no words! All I can do is ask myself that mysterious question … did I dream the tree or did the tree dream me? Who knows! There is even more synchronicity to this poem I’ve just realised as memory of a lost ring “in an ancient woodland” surfaces.

      Yes, “keeping our hearts unlocked” is the most powerful key in our life, one I remembered vividly that day in the woods when my wife lost consciousness. Hmm, a lost ring, an old dream, an unopened door … all honouring mystery and the unknown. All being well, the virus will help many of us dethrone the ego so time and hearts can be reset and restarted. Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

      1. It sounds like there is a mystery to be unlocked with all the remarkable events and synchronicity that has happened for you recently Deborah. I think that this time of lockdown is the perfect time to step back and solve the mysteries of our conscious and unconscious lives so far and to make plans for our futures.

        1. Hmm, at the heart of this mystery lies the image of a lost ring (which makes me think of Lord of the Rings!) but it’s amazing, because I’ve just checked my diary and my wife lost her wedding ring the very same week one year ago and whilst writing this poem it never (consciously) crossed my mind to include the event but my unconscious had other plans.

          Perhaps the lost ring is not only a conscious image but a psychic one too! I can’t explain this well but often it will be a dream image that generates a new poem. If dreaming is a suspension of time (and ego), of all certainty, then the coronavirus and lockdown feels the same … but how a lost ring fits into this mystery I haven’t figured out yet. I only know it’s time to reset and restart my heart. x

  6. A fascinating trip like Alice in the wondering land. Somehow one must wonder that the whole magic is waiting close by the side and never noticing it. And opening the door into the Spring, it’s life awakening. And at the end explaining love, it was the best explanation of love I’ve ever heard. I am full now, full of Love full of Life, full of Magic and full of Dreams, Thank you, my lovely friend, stay safe and tuned with your beloved wife. Blessing. PS: as you know since I am at home, have got the same idea to run to my bookshelves to have a look into my past and present. but I have got first to confront the old spiders and dust one can’t imagine how they gather together in the time of oblivion. since yesterday I am busy with the process!

    1. Thank you so much Aladin for your wonderful comment! It did feel very much like Alice in Wonderland as I slid down the life-giving xylem and arrived upon the balcony of that internal library! Yes, opening the (heart’s) door does take us into spring and hearing my wife stir the next morning felt like a true miracle of love … I’m still struggling to find the right words to describe this feeling! Perhaps I’ll write more about this moment one day, it deserves more light for sure.

      Oh, I’m so pleased you enjoyed my poem and that you’re radiating with love and magick! My book shelves tell so many stories of my past and throughout the years I have donated hundreds of books to charity shops, otherwise my house would be that towering library! I feel the joy of this poem and dream has been that the psyche has let me know that all the books I’ve ever read have not disappeared but do remain within me … there are no words! Ah, the spiders … the Great Mother herself waits for you! Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

  7. From title to image to poem to dream to Green Man. A lush, fertile production Deborah. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much Bookworm for your visit and truly “lush” comment! I can’t take any credit for the image as the poet’s wife created this composite yesterday from two of her photos. A wonderful way to illustrate the King of May. Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

  8. Dear Deborah, thank you – your poetry is like a healing balm written as it is from your heart and soul. Was the tree dreaming you or you dreaming the tree … from the ancient oak’s overarching branches, leading to you branching out – and in.

    In a way, your poem brings to mind Eve’s rise, and fall, from sleeping to awakening, to the mysteries of life and beyond …

    May you and your wife go well, and be encouraged and enlivened by all that is wonderful and marvellous in this world and other worlds.

    I lost my original comment (I got the captcha wrong) …

    With love, Susan from the South

    1. Thank you so much Susan for your perceptive response to my new poem! Love the idea of those overarching branches helping me to branch out, or in. What I found incredible were the similarities between life and the dream itself, especially as much of the world is in quarantine at the moment and their home (above and below) is their only sanctuary.

      Yes, Eve’s fall and rise again, after being given the kiss of life and freedom from the Tree! Indeed, as my wife lost consciousness, there was a moment I looked up and saw that we were under an oak tree on a day when the dream of entering one had been on my mind all day. You couldn’t make it up as we entered the mysteries of life and then a heavenly blue light.

      Re: Comments. I always write mine in a word document first as some websites (I think?) need their page refreshed first before the Captcha will work as I’ve received a few emails to say mine is broken. Hmm, it’s a wordpress mystery to me! So when in doubt, I will now copy and paste my reply, then refresh a website before posting it. Hope that helps! Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

  9. Deborah, can people have dream envy? Because what a fantastical dream!!!

    As you know I don’t study them but waking/sleeping really stand out as general themes. In yours you create a sanctuary for poets and writers that wouldn’t be out of place in Harry Potter. That this place was/is inside of you/us blows my own writer’s mind.

    I’m thankful to hear your wife is recovering from the virus. What a scary time April must’ve been for both of you. I hope she continues to gain strength and recover. Keep in touch and keep channelling the healing spirit of the Green Man. Love to both. HF

    1. Ha-Ha! Dream envy?! It was an incredible dream for sure and one that stuck with me for years, refusing to surface until now … here in lockdown! Perhaps after last week’s events I needed to (re)create a sanctuary for myself … “above and below” … but you know how it goes when the muse calls … we have to answer in whatever way we can! Wouldn’t it be something if a fantasy writer out there would write a story for poets and create a fantasy world for them … do shout out if you know of such a book Henry because I’d love to read it!

      Thank you so much for the gift of your wonderful words and kind-hearted, compassion! The poet’s wife is slowly recovering. Yes, it’s been an extremely worrying time for weeks now and yesterday provided me with a whole afternoon of writing … and the birth of this poem and my old dream and so many things that stepped in … including memories and the Green Man himself. Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

      1. Sorry Deborah, no books come to mind, however, I came across this earlier –


        Indoors for this ash
        is through the bark:
        notice its colour – asphalt
        or slate in the rain

        then go inside, tasting
        weather in the tree rings,
        scoffing years of drought and storm,
        moving as fast as a woodworm

        who finds a kick of speed
        for burrowing into the core,
        for mouthing pith and sap,
        until the o my god at the heart.

        © 2009, Jo Shapcott

        1. Wow! Thank you so much Henry for finding and sharing this poem.
          Huge poetic *swooning* going on here! OMG that last line! Divine! x

  10. ‘The tree offered the poet a key.’ — Sublime!

    Deborah, thank you for walking us into the poetic landscape of your soul and channelling the healing spirit of the Green Man. What an amazing tree dream you’ve had there, especially the part when you were taken into your innermost library. Stunning work!! All the best, Anna.

    1. Thank you so much Anna for your wonderful comment! “Channelling the Green Man” oh I do love that! The dream was an old dream that’s been sitting in my journal for a while. I couldn’t help but find many parallels today between my dream sanctuary and my locked down, quarantine life. The opening line came with the dream itself.

      Yes, my inner library and those two small dream rooms were awesome! There was every outfit there that I had ever worn since a young girl, including my old star-shaped patched jeans and my iconic 1970’s red and blue bomber jacket. Bright Beltane Blessings, Deborah.

      1. Beautiful —

        ‘As the poet listens to her wife stir,
        the most beautiful sound
        she has heard in her life thus far’

        I hope she’s recovered now from her ‘fall’..

        1. Believe me, I’ve never heard anything sweeter than the sound of my wife waking, following her collapse in the woods last week. Unbelievably, and this is why this poem and dream has surfaced I feel, it took place beneath an ancient oak elder. x

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