He collects tigers in wells, panthers and snow leopards
at the bottom of dead lakes, in the hearts of glaciers;
insects and bugs, spiders with eight lives and even caterpillars
he hides in all and every kind of nut, hazelnut, walnut, macadamia and chestnut…
those things, shelled and frozen, he keeps safely hanging from his trees
grown from a forest floor of sand, wider than the eye can see.
He sometimes goes by Morpheus and when he does, the story goes
that he blends squashed snakeskin and bat’s cry into a canvas
and hands you a brush and lets you do your thing;
he offers you colors that he himself prepared. Something
garish then escapes, something Bosch might have painted,
wide awake, sand caked under his fingernails.
He sometimes calls himself Oneiros; Oneiros
keeps painted masks tucked in among the feathers of his wings,
masks with eyes and tongues, with red mouths and teeth, masks
with words and songs, masks with screams and confessions;
he might dare you to pick one and wear it or he might drop one before you
along with a scattering of feathers as he leaves you standing, feet buried in sand.
You might also call him Morphine, he who breaks the shells of nuts
and takes all the eight lives of spiders in his mouth, melts glaciers and drains lakes
and drinks dry all the deepest wells;
in a house of ivory built on a sandy shore you will find him waiting,
rearranging mirrors in honor of your coming and scattering his wings for you to walk on;
sharded masks cut your soles and the sand stings them deeply
as you walk, and with the certainty of butterflies, you do no longer want to remain
a caterpillar feasting on his un-real trees and so
you call him Dream and give him even stranger shapes
that are as real as bullets are, as real as words that have been spoken;
yes, he smiles. But do not forget that Dream has masks, slick as oil,
dark as blood, sharp as promises and manifold as deserts of sand in distant lands.
Alexandra Seidel is a writer, poet, and daydreamer. A variety of gods and goddesses have made a habit of showing up in her writing, but what can you do? Deities are just so volatile.
Alexa’s poems can be found at Mythic Delirium, Stone Telling, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. Her first collection, “All Our Dark Lovers,” will be released on Valentine’s Day 2013 from Morrigan Books. You can follow her on Twitter (@Alexa_Seidel) or read her blog: www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com. She says:
“A Metamorphosis of Dream” began with the first stanza, the cats in bodies of water as a representation of the wild and primal forces our dreams can confront us with. The piece is inspired–at least in part–by Morpheus of course, the Greek god of dreams.
Illustration is from Morpheus by Jean-Bernard Restout, image in the public domain in the US and Canada.