The Substance of Dreams

The Substance of Dreams full

‘We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded.’
‘Not to me,’ said Frodo. ‘To me it feels more like falling asleep again.’

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

I—Remembrance of the Storm

Hack off a limb of the Jesse tree
Dead standing simulacrum of the veins
Turned from the shape of history to history’s firewood-fuel
But the tree of man still stands
It cleaves yet to the married earth

There is a gift of forgetting
The baptismal font of the Flood
But also there is a gift of remembering
The red dancing continuance of life
The angel appeased by Zipporah in the night

In its growth the tree remembers
Garlanded in the circular years
But its scars too endure
Written on the wood the ancient storm
Which one day might return from the sea

II—Singing of the Sea

I hold the petrified revenant in my sandy palm
My sandy palm sticky with salt
And the routine pun comes to mind between poet and sea
Sing to me now of dreaming and the forest
The trees’ wilted curls angelic under the waves
Stale as my own unbound hair with which the wind would gag me

This is a new quiet land
And the songs it sings are to me as inhuman as the wind intent upon silence
But always the infant predator bird crying from his eyrie
And the old world comes back to us on the tide

III—Imagining the Desert

Nature’s dreams are on larger cycles than ours perhaps
Whole peoples go by while the elements plot merely to reduce the blasphemous
graven stone unto godly smoothness

But you cannot say there is no plan to Time
Have you never seen a desert?
There is the absolute dominion of the winds
Having ground all dead things beyond the reach of clocks
And they say, the learned infidels,
That there shall someday be a desert of the stars
And that is what the dreaming cosmos desires

IV—Carving the Stone

But ever we seek art’s martyrdom
The important if eternal pain of the bullseye St Sebastian
To the point where dreams outlast us
To the point where we are not and yet affirm ‘I was’
And in such dreams are we not materialists?
Daubing the doubter with his hand in the wound
Lest such mouths heal in time
And the illusions of objects, the solidity of desire,
All whisper against our knowledge
That we are sleepers here
And that when we go it shall be into a reality of light

by Sophia Nugent-Siegal ©