"the marriage of music and mind"
from The Sleepwalker at Sea
A Butterfly in the British Museum
Smuggled in on a schoolgirl’s cuff,
its brushed wings dusting
the cabinet edges—agate seals
and scarabs, a charlatan’s scrying
crystal and turquoise teeth
of an Aztec skull. Spinning
to kneel, she shrugs loose
her knapsack, scrabbling
for sketchbook and pen,
when suddenly her wrist blossoms,
takes flight, meets itself
in a ricochet of glare—
its hieroglyphs ghosting
into cartouched tombs.
For an instant, the mystery
of the living and the beauty of the dead
flutter in the glass; impulsive
lenses zoom too late!, too late!
as the soul of a doodling girl
vibrates to the sky-light’s deep,
The poems in The Sleepwalker at Sea tread a fluid line between dream and wakefulness, memory and loss, presence and longing. Leave a house and it suddenly fills with "the unseen"; consult "The Book of Clues" and discover only "ghostly hints" of a self you’ve left behind. Linked by their restless displacement, pacing haunted spaces, these are poems that question what it means to be in the world and seek answers in lost rooms, missing sketches, disappearing fragments.
By turns meditative and playful, romantic and philosophical, The Sleepwalker at Sea strides an invisible path through streets of strangers, in search of ruined altars, buried candles, and "the whispering galleries of the dead". Here, deer "dissolve / into a tapestry of mist", a butterfly "measures / the universe’s weight", and the soul "sculpts itself in frostlit air".