I was caught in the loops of a dream,
walking through streets where paint
flaked off the walls and buildings crumbled
with the memory of long monsoons.
I entered a crowded bazaar. In my hands
I held a shapeless parcel, battered,
wrapped in dirty cloth. I could read
LOVE on it in many languages.
Each time carefully crossed out.
A ragged man came up to me.
His mouth was betel-stained,
his teeth all gone. He asked me
in the universal language of a dream:
“Will you sell it now? Some people
might pay well. And in the waking light
this thing might fade, like you.
No haggling here, not even
over love.” He turned and vanished
as they tend to do in dreams.
I stood there, parcel heavy
in my hands. I could not decide.
I felt the dread of losing things
that were not mine to lose, and woke.
Matt Riker lived in Switzerland, Sweden and England as a child, and grew up trilingual. While studying in Berne and Cape Town he started writing poetry and has remained at it ever since. A number of his poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies. Matt currently lives and teaches in Switzerland.