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Holocene  •  22 May 2021  •  Fiction

A Pastoral Phantasmagoria

By India Turner
A Pastoral  Phantasmagoria


‭ ‬

I had known you from another boat on the same river‭ ‬

On the same river in the same prairie‭ ‬

Henceforth‭; ‬when I was a moth

Coming astern and soapy water making lisle progressions from the wing‭ ‬

Beneath‭, ‬there are pondweeds which tether wooden boats and lily pads and carcasses to the sunken banks

And wings

In this morning‭, ‬bathing in that algae water‭, ‬your hair is auburn like the sun

You light a joint in your mouth‭ ‬

Your laugh is that of a boy‭ ‬—‭ ‬it always has been‭ ‬—‭ ‬and I have always articulated you in such a way

I apologise now‭, ‬because I know you are more‭.‬

Almost drowning between the rushes‭, ‬the wings are pulled backwards and earthbound

But here you are hallowed by the sun‭, ‬and you will be shepherded upward to heaven‭ ‬

Unholy and wingless‭, ‬but angelic in such a way

Your fishing net is untangled now

Summer will bring you endless harvest

Of promise

Of berries‭, ‬and fish‭, ‬and sunlight‭, ‬and love

Somewhere ceaselessly in this cathedral

And from beneath the water of which I am held to without enquiry‭, ‬eternally

I have known your dream


‭ ‬

Here in this dream‭, ‬I had known you

From the same river

The water which carries boats and lake weed pollen against the same prairie always

Henceforth‭; ‬when I was an angel

All clovers and mushrooms circumnavigate browns of which foliage has nursed and then smothered

‭ ‬

At noon everything is in equilibrium‭ ‬

And you tail the river this time as a hunter‭ ‬


Passive beyond the mouths of the hedgerow I hang backward over a branch

So if I fall

It would be to fly

And you wade wide-eyed‭, ‬headfirst and callow into the rushes‭ ‬

And the water becomes a darker green‭, ‬the same way you thought your eyes did in the summer

Until you remembered how this land could move beneath you

And you would drown each time

The river subsides to the water snakes

They surface to lick the fallen leaves from your palms

And I watch from my branch as you feed your killers graciously by hand

Clouds move in circles around the sun

The water oscillates‭, ‬then settles into a single stillness

As the serpents carry you through the green

‭ ‬

Clawing upon the mossy embankment‭, ‬the white of my dress withers under the earth

My hands below the tide


And sinking between the skeletons of moths and reeds

I know you would go unwavering‭ ‬

Because beneath‭, ‬the seasons will escape you

And in here in your dream by your river

I will wait for you always


‭ ‬

I dreamed I had known you

These waters would dream for you every time

Henceforth‭; ‬when I was a child

The dialogue from prairie to riverbed to sky is held between a vision now

Water pearls around my neck beside the curator

Or hunter

And you‭, ‬my wayfarer

With a lacuna between the prayers of distant trees and‭ ‬

My prairie nightgown which gathers up about my legs

Here‭, ‬snowfall makes ceramics of river stones‭-‬

Of the river‭, ‬stillness‭.‬

As the way that moths await at the threshold‭, ‬

Liminality feels warm and light

Under the planks of this watery death

Old mahogany straining against old rope by an embankment‭ ‬

I invoke you beside me

So that in this dream‭, ‬in every dream I might stay‭ ‬

In this prairie‭ ‬

Lying tenderly beside you


‭ ‬

Life is a phantasmagoria in a wooden boat which sails through my river

Henceforth‭; ‬when I was a lover

Wandering from prairie snakes and grass and moths and the singular anatomy of continuing

To some vanishing point beyond this

And you pull the oars against the water which opens by a small lamp‭, ‬and the sky ceaseless and the river deathless

Because wherever I am going‭, ‬I have known these waters‭ ‬

And so‭, ‬with the things you have set upon my palms

I listen at last‭ ‬

Silently as things drown away‭ ‬


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