another take on a repeating dream…

The Bowl

A forest blooming underground,
a place of trees of ancient width
whose mossy trunks span,
leaves rustling, high
into the teeth of stalactites.
It is a space that could not be.

This mazelike wood that flourishes
in caverns. My feet are bare
against the moss, soft green
sinks deep, brushing my ankles.
I keep a fast step, running,
sweat pooling in the scant valleys
between my naked ribs.

The air is cold, lit
by improbable moonlight,
a pale subterranean orb,
pregnant and bursting,
pours milk on my spine.
I plunge deeper in.

The dogs appear,
as they do always,
wolfish creatures
well trained,
though not by me,
awaiting their cue.

They grin with the clear pleasure
of all dogs, huge gray bodies press
against my thighs, shepherding
my strides. I am really speeding now;
the trunks fly by at car speed,
and each leap propels me further
than gravity would usually allow.

The dogs, the wolves, run with me,
frothing, laughing, panting hard.
The ground changes so gradually
that I hardly know it. At first,
I mistake the round limbs
for felled branches,
and not the severed arms of men.

Their butchered thighs,
like pork roasts, bone
embedded deep in flesh,
roll beneath my soles.
My dogs prop me up,
my motion continues
perpendicular, though
I stumble I do not fall.

The trees give way to clearing;
sweet air scented
with the fresh tang of meat.
A hill of hanged men
rises from the centre,
a natural extension
of that dark earth.

A woman stands, veiled,
her strong legs planted
in the ground
from which she feeds.
Her face is vague beneath
the clinging cheesecloth,
but I detect a smile.

She is holding a bowl
of ancient vintage,
rough silver carved over
in a tongue I cannot read.
The dogs, my altered wolves,
howl joyful as I climb
the rolling hill.

It is loose stacked;
hands and necks loll
on their cracked stems, nodding
at every step. My heel slips once
and I hear the vegetable crunch
of a broken nose.

Suddenly I am there,
naked before this goddess of white.
I am aware of my thirst,
and her bowl which brims
with deep red wine
of a very rare pressing.

The smile is clear now
through the loose muslin weave.
Her face is my own, perfected.
Her long hair hangs down
her neck in serpentine coils.
Our wolves, our dogs are laughing,
howling. I drink from our bowl,
and find myself whole.


About Bethany W Pope

Bethany W Pope was named by the Huffington Post as ‘one of the five Expat poets to watch in 2016’. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest collection as 'poetry as salvation'.....'This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.' Bethany has won many literary awards and published several collections of poetry. Her first novel, Masque, was published by Seren in 2016. Her second novel, Ordinary Lives: The Ballad of John and Mary, was published in 2018. Follow her on Twitter @BethanyWPope

Posted on April 18, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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