Last night I dreamed my dad was shrinking. He warned me this was going to happen, but the next thing I knew he was shorter than me with white hair and thin old man scabs, round on his forehead, like moles, but red and crusty. He actually stands over six feet tall and moves like a bear. In my dream he comes up to my chest, his body feels like sticks in a bag. I cry to him “No this can’t be, you can’t be this tiny, this…remnant, you just can’t be…dying.”
When I woke up I called my brother. When he was seven he fell from a neighbor’s roof and broke both his arms. Today the home owner’s insurance policy will pay him over $12,000, it’s his 25th birthday. I tell him on the phone that though he two-cast stumbled as a tike, now it was all paying off. He laughed “I’ll probably still get arthritis in my arms.”
I said “we have to go visit dad.” It’s a seven hour drive over the barren hills of eastern Washington. I’d rather go during harvest, when the loaded semi trucks with ears of corn, bins of apples and bright orange pumpkins pass. But it can’t wait. We have to go now.
I also dreamed in shades of my sister. Her hair was hip length red ropes like she wore when we were kids. She was walking in autumn, golden leaves flew around her feet. She was wearing sunflower print. A yellow rope hung from the trees, she rode the rope down like a pirate.
What is interesting about dreaming my dad two decades from now and my middle aged sister as a ten year old is how, in my subconscious, time moves in both directions. The Dying Gaul is like that, a modern take on a 2000 year old Greek Sculpture. In it is the future of every boy and the past of every old man. But when you're there with him, it is present-time. Blue veins course, soft flesh of toes grow cold in the museum’s quiet evenings, as we would, if we were nude. It is so real it is now, as my father’s future and my sister’s past is now, as my brother’s broken arms are part of his past and will be part of his future, the Dying Gaul is, was, and always will be.