Anorexia and A Dream of the Drifting Hulk
A Further
Response to
Our Review
Of Wasted

Dear Ralph:

I read youre blasfemes and I wonder. Who do you think you are. Saying bad things about God & Our Lord & Savior. Whered you learn such bad things. You got the Devil in you, and he will eat you alive. You give into the Devil and youre going to wake up one day in hell the fires burneing you to sinders burning and it never going to stop. It will hurt, and It will be forever not onlie today or tomorrow but FOREVER. You say those bad words about Our Lord & Savior and one day you learn that the bolt can come down and blow you to Eternity too. I laughed at Jesus like you do until one day He came to me and Struck Me Down and I got on my knees and preyed and so I learned that you don't do that unless you want to Burn in Hell For Ever. Wake Up Sinner!!!

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Dear Ralph:

Over the past few months --- since turning seventy --- I've been having this strange dream, about a boy who lives on the river, in an old hulk.

The joints are leaking, the motor is ancient --- probably doesn't work (he doesn't even try to start it up anymore) --- and the tub rocks all night long. They say it's drifting, and for all we know, it's headed downstream, down to where the rapids and whirlpools are.

The boy that lives on this scow is no dummy, but he just can't figure it out. He lies there at night, in the dark, and he listens to the water whispering by belowdecks and sometimes late at night he can hear the river bottom --- or what he thinks is the river bottom --- scraping along the hull (reeds whisper against the sides) and he thinks that tomorrow, or perhaps next year, or maybe even ten years from now the scow will suddenly get to the falls and just plop right over.

As I say, the boy in this dream is no dummy, and he's prepared for whatever is going to happen, as prepared as anyone can be in a situation like that. He lies there listening, and as he is listening and waiting, sometimes he'll drift off, have a dream --- a dream within a dream, as it were --- a dream of great beauty (after it's over, he thinks to himself, "It's like being bathed in diamonds..." He's had the same dream many times).

In the dream, he finds that he has been transformed into a beautiful woman, a woman who is heavy with child --- and he's about to give birth to the beautiful child. He will sometimes, in the dream, rock back and forth, holding onto his belly, singing a little off key, singing to the babe in his belly. When he wakes he is still rocking, still singing.

It doesn't last very long, this dream --- but after he wakes up, he feels very gentle, and he finds it doesn't matter at all that he's on this ancient rusty scow, drifting downriver.

I can't tell you if the boy is afraid . Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. You see, it's very hard to explain what goes in his mind --- in anyone's mind, for that matter. We could ask him, ask if he's afraid to be alone on this great drifting hulk, but I don't even think he'd be able to answer. Who could? It's hard to answer a question like that when you don't even know what you're supposed to be afraid of.

§     §     §

I've been having this dream for some time now, and I guess it is time for me to do something about it. That's why I'm writing you.

I figured you would understand what it means: the rusty old scow, drifting, not really going anywhere. I figured you might understand what it's like for someone like me, not quite knowing where everything is going, not knowing when it will end; not even knowing whether to be afraid or not.

I figured you'd understand about the drifting, and the words, too: you'd know about what words can and cannot do, words like whirlpool or bravery or rapids or fear. You of all people would know if they're just sounds, and don't really mean anything. It's like my friend Charlie says: trying to understand the meaning behind a word is like trying to smell a rose with a picture of a nose.

Yes, I thought to myself, it's time for me to sit down and write out this dream, and send it off --- see what my friends out there can make of it.

Maybe they can figure out better than I can.

--- Leslie Seamans

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