© 2019 Tapestry, Annual TAMUK Women & Gender Studies Journal

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Emilie Bilman

Ode to Sleep

O Sleep, descend upon me softly

And close my fatigue-ridden eyelids

O Sleep, let me slip into my shadow

Like a candle waning out into the night.

 

O Sleep, screen me off from the world’s

Turmoil to create space for the new day

And forge new experiences from a restful

Memory shaped by sleep’s pure patina.

O Sleep, close off my consciousness,

The companion of regret, tormenting me

With bygone conflicts, O Sleep, protect me

From guilty remorse inflicting woe.

The New Order

The minotaur is captive in the poem’s labyrinth.

The beast feeding on sacrificial human flesh

will only forsake the trap when the poet’s

torments subside like the ill wind that sinks ships.

 

Until then, he must dwindle in the maze,

trying to figure the way out. The king believes

human sacrifice protects his ships and his harbor

yet he cannot control the minotaur’s savagery

 

nor the poet’s temperament, the energy shaping

the poem. Like the ingenious Ariadne, the poet

unravels the thread leading out of the labyrinth’s

mouth to save Theseus who slays the beast.

 

The sonnet’s volta points to a new order of courage

Disfeaturing the price of human sacrifice.

 

The Mask and the Dream

The real dream was forgotten.

 

My lover’s face floated 

on the river that captivated him.

I tore the mask off my lover’s face

to recollect the hints of my dream

buried deep in the sands of memory.

 

Hard on seduction, the mask revealed

the betrayal he had hidden

when he touched the feline woman.

 

My lover’s face was conjoined

to his mask that watched him

like the spirit that makes us recollect

the cues of our dream-labyrinths

until we traverse the paths

to the original memory –

 the source of our troubled wishes,

haunting us while we are wide-awake.

 

We dream again and again

to catch a few more cues

until my lover’s mask regains his face

and assure the passage of our lives

retrievable only in dreams.

 

The Dream Cadence

The real dream was forgotten.

 

My lover’s face floated 

on the river that captivated him.

I tore the mask off my lover’s face

to recollect the hints of my dream

buried deep in the sands of memory.

 

Hard on seduction, the mask revealed

the betrayal he had hidden

when he touched the feline woman.

 

My lover’s face was conjoined

to his mask that watched him

like the spirit that makes us recollect

the cues of our dream-labyrinths

until we traverse the paths

to the original memory –

 the source of our troubled wishes,

haunting us while we are wide-awake.

 

We dream again and again

to catch a few more cues

until my lover’s mask regains his face

and assure the passage of our lives

retrievable only in dreams.

 

The Procession

1564

 

Breughel painted the death-wheel

As the young shepherd shorn

From his hut hung on the wheel

Hoisted on the city’s outskirts

While his wife shed tears of grief

Mingled with the vultures’ shrieks.

The painter saw the martyrs dragged down

The cobblestones by the Red Militia,

Crucified in imitation of Christ

As examples for the heathen villagers

Dancing in reels. He painted the town’s

Rich politicians silent in their Janus-like

Hypocrisy that kept the mill grinding

Its bitter grains for bread baked by blood.

 

Unrequited

Upon Pegasus we rode, silk-wings

Transparent against the moonlight,

The mirror of our anguish and flight.

As the night trembled with new-born terror,

 

You were hampered by the nightmares

Of the frameless forest, with the blind

Bile-pool you failed to contain. Our excess

Desire was quelled into this unrequited

 

Love locked within my sonnet

Whose anguish could solely be

Vanquished by my words

While from the white page

 

A hundred starlings took flight

In my daydreams to alight.