ISSN 2692-3912

Man Sleeping in a Painting by Chagall



She is a voice in the clouds
over the prairie windy and wordless,

over the wheat that shivers.
I clear a path to follow as I drift
and bring flowers to keep her company
because she is alone

except when I dream her
and then
she brushes away my attention
as simply as autumn leaves

and calls for deep lugubrious snow
to mix with ashes from the past,

a past that bends
like the whistle of a train,

the breath that holds the memories.
and I walk deserted streets
with an urge for light.

We are only passing through a night.
It is not dark. Light emblazons the numinous portals
that were eyes

and we find ourselves in China
with a cup of Jazmin tea
and mandarins

among those islands touched by rain.
cipher a diary of dreams.

Wind combs the tangles
out of childhood.

The old knife shines with the past.


And yet, I am the woman in my dream,
the music that trails away.

She touches me awake—
girl with a vague face, changing before us,
a shred of cloud
turning the borders into mist—that’s why
her features are ambiguous,
her nightgown white.

There is no life upon waking,
a pallor of dawn,
a radio with echoes of the day before…

We cannot say
we see the very thing
or that we depend
or that we may be certain of uncertainty
or know nothing or of nothing.

But I have a violent wonder,
the lightning tearing at her gown
to find the secrets she has kept—

her body, unsheathed,
swells, sings out
in transfiguration—like a body, holy body.

It radiates the twilight still
and black hair
drapes across her nakedness.

Wake inside me!
Walk barefoot.
Blue, remote and trembling…

Come—the word, a small white stone,
ripples, wave on wave toward waking,
drawing on calligraphy of ships…

through the French doors
to the sirens through the fog—
figures of ivy, shadows, shawls, and sea—
not a figure but a figment,

a wisp,
ghost ghosting a photo,

or the morning
inflaming a bowl of fruit.

Close your eyes,
what was one day.

Say your litany of sheep until we meet again.
Make nonsense of the nebula,
feathers of anonymous birds,
faces brightened by a dying star.

And let lips to dazzling shadows cast
in the chalice silhouette
that holds you.

This is where the serpent lives.
He lives!