Dream landscape at the edge of this world

“As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods,
They kill us for their sport.”
~ Shakespeare (“King Lear,” Act 4, scene 1)

What to make of a dream in which
fields are littered with decapitated
remains, the sightless heads of the fallen
in even rows tilted up at the sky, their hair
matted with dried blood yet somehow
artfully arranged like fringes of grotesque
sunflowers? What to make of the pair of us,
winding hand in hand through grounds
made slick with the issue from these bodies,
the air rank and thick with flies? You were
frailer than I ever remembered, slight
in a thin cotton wrapper, undone by
the terrible waste surrounding us. I led
as if now the parent and you the child,
feeling as if somehow I’d been there before,
winding through maze-like paths flanked
by hedges made of reeds whose ends
were quilled blades. Ahead, an armored
shape emerged from out of its cave; I stayed
our progress, trembling in the crosshatches.
What might we do if we had plumes or wings?
And yet on every side, the puce from doves’
breasts dripped warnings on the rocks. Bent low
to the ground, at last we found our way to where
a dying sentinel stood guard at the edge of this
world: he dipped his finger in his blood and marked
our heads; then pointed out the exit in the distance.

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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