Dream of a Summer Night
When he paints you can’t tell whether he’s
asleep or awake. He must have an angel in
his head somewhere.
Picasso, on Chagall
They are both asleep, the woman in white and the horned beast.
Like any newlyweds fresh off the altar, their eyes resist
the world, its lawns ripe with fruit trees, its skies
rife with vermilion angels. And yes, it’s possible this
is love, their hands are so careful—his, flat against her gown’s
white shoulder, nowhere near her breast; hers,
holding a fan, half-shut, across their proximal groins.
They have not yet wakened. Cheek
to jowl, they stare through the sudden abrasion
of symbols, into each other’s separate flesh, asleep
an (approximate) million cells apart. He is, recall, a beast.
Gentle of eye, true, but the eye’s too big and the horns
are a dead giveaway. They’ll waken soon. But first,
the hands will be still a moment longer inside the dream
of (approximate) bliss, the eyes will close completely…
When they wake, they’ll wake afloat in inhabited sky.
This is Chagall; where else could they go?
They’ll wake. Creatures in red cloth will hover.
They’ll breathe gold air. A small green man with a violin
will turn. And the earth. And, each to each other,
(slowly slowly), their oh-so-different flesh.
Marjorie Stelmach has published five collections of poetry, most recently Falter (Cascade). Her work has recently appeared in the American Literary Review, Boulevard, Florida Review, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, Image, New Letters,Tampa Review and others. She is the recipient of the 2016 Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from The Beloit Poetry Journal. She lives in St. Louis, MO.
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