by Leah Kent
You did something I cannot comprehend—
dredged a dream out of a lifelong sleeper.
Dutifully you came like a gardener to feed me, to watch me
swell and ripen, and I began to dream.
I dreamt of your hands, slicing apples on an old wooden table,
the crispy puckering of your slices
making me numb with hunger.
You pushed a piece into my mouth—I tasted
your fragrant fingers.
I felt warm to the core, and stirred in my sleep.
Someday I’d like to taste the sea.
In my sleep I feel like I am floating—stillness plays tricks on
an imprisoned mind, and I no longer know if I am wet or dry,
if I am drifting through dark waters or lying
on a pyre of cold white sheets.
I wove my hair into a net and dragged it through the sea.
You walked across the water to untangle me, but I had forgotten my name.
I never caught a single thing, not a glance,
or a glimpse of an uncovered shoulder.
My hair became the ropes the men used to tie their sails,
my skin the parchment of tentatively sketched maps.
My sleeping body was all the material you needed.
Nothing awakens more suddenly than sacrifice.
There have been so many fruits torn apart searching for seeds,
and there I was, my mealy insides exposed, ready for harvest.
I laid on the old wooden table, like I was on the cross,
begging to understand why.
I no longer believe sacrifices are made gladly, but nothing which
collapses a kingdom is ever done fairly.
Tenderly, the seeds were lifted out.
Tenderly, they were laid out to dry.