RDW's poems

9- End Game

Let’s drop the myth.  We all live half-asleep
We lie uneasy – have disturbing dreams
that shake us, make us twitch – are ill at ease,
however much we try to stay asleep:

wear masks, take pills, and plug our ears with sound
Here’s where the Briar Rose, the champion sleeper
meets us: in our dreams.   We sleep with her,
with all our dreams, and pray to stay asleep

If she awakes and sees the briars are gone
she walks away – not riding on our horse
but barefoot, on her own.  She walks away
out of the forest and out of our sight

It is too great a loss for us to bear
so we concoct a draught to hide the pain –
but not our pain.  We give the draught to her,
to Briar Rose, to keep her here, asleep,

with sleeping Princes hung about on thorns
A crucifix of suitors bled dead dry
ring round our Rose, and prick her with a thorn
and pump our greatest magic in her veins –

SSRI – pump just enough to let
her see, even to speak, but not enough
to rise, to walk away.  But sweet enough
that she says “More.  Please more.  Please give me more.

Please keep me here, and hidden from the sun,
unchained from time, released from growing old
released from hanging breasts and shrivelled skin
released from seeing that I am ignored

and insignificant, and not a myth,
but just a girl who had the will to sing
but could not face a world that will not hear –
that does not care if I should live or die

It’s better here, within these quiet briars
where I am safe from disappointing life
from anti-climax, is-that-all-there-is,
from meagre unrewarding insubstantial

failing dying rotting decayed life,
from death-in-life, from trotting off to death.
I will stay here.  I’ll stay encased in briars
singing to these Princes, these sweet men

sweet sweet young men, my loves, my retinue,
companions in my timeless one-way vault
where we have life-in-death, which I shall choose
shall always choose, above your death-in-life,

above your fragile, petty, witless, doomed –
your vain brief hopeless finite pointless life.
I do not take your life.  Death takes your life
Not mine!  I am forever young and fair,

forever sought by Princes, my sweet men
who come to share my immortality
You take your life.  Keep your lips to yourself
Don’t dare to kiss me.  Don’t dare wake me up”

And so I left.  I left her there – asleep


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