“As I lay Dreaming”

Last night I had a strange dream.

I dreamt of walking for miles and miles. Crossing towns, roads, bridges, tollgates, meadows and valleys. And still more tollgates, motorways and valleys.

Thousands and thousands of miles without ever reaching the end. On the horizon I glimpsed a Fortress, but the more I walked the more it seemed to move away, as if it were a mirage in the skyline. It seemed a journey without end.

I was alone, and I didn’t know where I was, or where I was going, yet it was beautiful to walk in those valleys: it imbued me with a sense of hope, and when, exhausted and hungry, I stopped in the fields to rest under the trees, I felt strangely free.

Then, all of a sudden a group of people appeared from behind a bush, and shortly after another group, and then more people. They kept coming out from every corner!

Some people were from Anatolia, others from Africa, all foreigners, all barbarians. They spoke languages I had never heard! I couldn’t understand them and they couldn’t understand me. In spite of this I was not afraid of them.

Every yard a new and different face appeared, men and women, youngsters, elders and children. I had never seen so many different faces! It reminded me of carnival ! And every field we passed through we met others like us, and others who were different from us, who were also walking in their rags with their scant belongings, so we started to walk together, soon becoming thousands and thousands. It was a flat version of Babel! It did not rise up like a tower, instead it wound through the fields and streets, flowing and bending, without ever breaking apart.

We grew increasingly tired, but increasingly numerous and spread out, as we pressed on. At first it was hot and we were sweating, but there were rivers to cross, waters to cool off in. Then it began to turn cold and it started to rain heavily, our shoes were covered in mud and we had nothing to protect us; we slept under bridges and under lorries along the roads, in abandoned houses. In wagons along the railway tracks and wherever we found shelter.

And along the path, we only met people in uniforms of various colours, but all with a strange, blank expression in their faces; they looked as if they were indifferent. We were hungry, we begged, but no one gave us a piece of bread or a blanket.

The uniforms had different colours but the people wearing them all had blank expressions on their faces. Then, finally, behind a mountain, the Fortress reappeared. And all at once, all those people, till then indifferent, became hostile and wanted to prevent us from carrying on.

Some dug a ditch, some whipped up their dogs, some put up a barrier, some built a wall, some rolled out barbed wire, some put out nails. And they started to shout ever more angrily, like an enemy army, and I could only see twisted faces with deformed mouths, and it was impossible to distinguish their voices which also seemed to be made up of numerous different languages, but all with the same fury.

I felt cold, tired, afraid. That word that I was trying to make out, obsessively and gloomily, suddenly resounded in my ears. It woke me from my dream. I didn’t know its meaning but its sound was clear: Europe.

Eloisa d’Orsi

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