Rip Van Winkle

N. C. Wyeth Rip Van Winkle


Rip Van Winkle


In the evening she sits on the couch.
The sunset starts a fire around her head,
like a halo. She reads and her hair
streams down in black coils
past her waist, past her knees.
It hesitates when it reaches the floor,
but then there are no obstacles.
It runs farther, faster.

When her husband comes home,
the room is a jungle. Small birds
chirp among black tresses. A boa
lowers its sleepy head on his shoulder.
On a bed of fresh palm leaves
his son pounds a coconut with his fists,
mouth and eyes wide open with hunger.

He packs the jungle away, feeds the baby.
In the black forest, where he goes
to sleep for the next ten years,
he dreams himself awake in her book.
He watches her turn page after page,
time slipping between her fingers
like water, like sand. He dreams the end
near, waits for that last page to turn
and release him. He can only hope
it will be to his world.


First published in Fickle Muses: journal of mythic poetry & fiction, August 2008

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