Winged Eros lays before me, asleep, small fist curled next to cheek, wings furled at his sides. Locks of hair fall over his smooth brow and frame his boyish face. If I touch him, might he awaken from his sleep? Might he blink, just once, for me? My fingers tremble above him, dancing on the air an inch above his breathless body. Indeed he has not breathed in a thousand years; he has never felt the kiss of breath. He has never felt the warmth of daylight, for even golden sunbeams cannot warm a heart of marble. But look—his skin is aglow in the morning light, and his lashes that seem to tremble only when I blink, are illuminated. Dew glistens on his unlined face like tears—or perhaps they are only the last drops of midnight rain. The hour is early still; I will let him sleep a moment longer.
Tear tracks trace the contours of my face as forgetfulness seeps into my blinking eyes. The nightmare that howled around me only moments ago lives in echoes of memory, fading quickly. The wind is awash with tears tonight, not mine but those of the skies, crystalline and cold; tears that never forget the landscapes they have sketched and shaped over centuries. Dawn awaits hours away, and if I listen closely I can hear the soft wings of Eos flutter closer and closer. As sleep pulls me into a warm embrace, the rosy fingers of lavender clouds colour my cheeks and illuminate the lace curtains swaying in the breeze. The hours of in-between are ending but they greet me again in my lucid dreams.
A million hesitations fall from wordless skies. Hyphens and dashes, lines of blank nothingness; they paint the soft grass a darker green. Crystals of indecision hang on pine needles, tipping this way and that, before toppling onto other branches far below. Pinprick confessions draw lines in the sand, words in the wet, wet earth. But each love letter is too smudged in the sand, too muddled in the mud, to read. Spring nymphs glide by with giggles, oblivious to the wide-eyed wonder of their admirers. Each heartbroken crystal fractures in heartbreak into smaller gems of even greater devotion, and they fall upon my skin in despair. Their tears dampen my white cotton shirt until the fabric seems to match their transparency; the weightless cloth now heavy with gravity and the murmurings of unrequited love.
Reflections flicker among fallen leaves who ferry wishes across a rippling stream. Shadows illuminated by the watery silver of the moon shift and merge like drops of ink in water. Shadows and moonlight dissolve into a veil of deepest blue-grey. Tiny illuminations glow and fade, glimmers in the dark like fireflies or candlelight; stars live and die while others are born. On the stream petals float beside each autumnal ferry, spring nymphs mourning their fall from rose-hued branches; if you listen carefully you might hear them sing.
Fingertips brush upon cool marble that tingles to the touch. Dusk is falling; stars are rising in the east and the world is slowly dissipating into darkness and shadow. More stars rise from the fields below, winged stars, lonely stars, glimmers of hope looking for love. The balcony rises above their amorous flight, feigning indifference to mirror the cold, impassive glow of the stars above whose silver flames offer no warmth tonight. In the distance, a nightingale’s song floats from the beak of a raven, or from a blackbird, or from a silhouette of one’s imagination. As night awakens, the dark veins in the pale marble seem to shift and spread like ink on snow.
Velvet petals float upon a pool whose gentle swells lap at twisting roots gnarled from time. Perhaps Ophelia would not have submerged into the depths of death had she dived into these waters instead; perhaps she would have floated in a single timeless moment as these petals do. Perhaps the sunlight glistening on each quivering ripple would dry her tears and warm her cooling skin, and would restore within her stilling heart the elixir of life. Or perhaps the shadows of her spirit would enshroud her completely, until her soft skin began to forget the sensation of sunlight. The color in her cheeks might then color the folds of her gown until she seemed a porcelain doll whose life resided only in her costume; a weightless form tossed carelessly to the fate of rippling waters. But listen—Ophelia’s soaring voice sings in the fading light amidst a rising chorus of night creatures; a voice carried by the flames of fireflies and the quiet whispers of the evening wind.
Three quarters sunlight, one quarter night; so the world is thus divided by gradients of illumination. Slats of sunlight fringed by closed lashes nudge my conscience into wakefulness. Slats of sunlight fringed by bare winter branches nudge the cool earth into consciousness. And we thus awaken in each other’s arms. The warmth of a blanket tucked under the chin and the sweetness of an early spring breeze are not so different. Dawn and dusk are equally alike. Together as siblings we smile in the last gossamer strands of soon-to-be-forgotten dreams.
The faint fragrance of wild roses floats on the wind as trees rustle their leaves above me. The time is no longer morning, not yet afternoon; the season no longer summer, but not yet fall. A staircase can be seen through the screen door, fractured into a mosaic that my eyes can never forget; the scene is too familiar to fade in memory. Footsteps pitter-patter across a parquet floor, and soft laughter seems to flutter through the rose petals—or perhaps it is only a breeze. A breeze—the air kisses my face and stills within a moment; stillness reigns in memory. In memory, the slanting sunlight never changes and the laughter behind the windows and walls remains eternally as that: faceless laughter of an ageless child.
Words written on wide-ruled pages seem to float on the evening wind. Each fluttering letter contains a pressed leaf or petal, carefully secured with tape. Shadows dance on the lamp-lit desk, telling stories in hushed whispers too quiet for mortal ears to decipher. Tree branches rustle in the dying light, their countless leaves changing hue with every movement of the breeze. In the distance, fallen stars have begun to gather on the blue-grey lawn, as tiny wings carry their unrequited love. The cool night air kisses my cheek and its fragrance fills the spaces of my mind as I close the porch door with a soft click.
« Mais parmi ses étoiles vivantes, combien de fenêtres fermées, combien d’étoiles éteintes, combien d’hommes endormis… »
-Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Terre des Hommes
Two starlit skies reflect one another on an ordinary night, illuminating the earth twice as subtly. Unknown mysteries conjure newborn stars next to dying ones, just as unknown hands flip light switches next to windows that were once aglow but have now gone dark. Each insomniac’s whispered dreams are framed by sheer lace curtains fluttering in the midnight wind as the light of stars above bleeds into the sky like ink in water. The waters of dreams and wishes reflect the sky above to create a new one below, both ever-changing, both eternally different yet alike. The world sleeps fitfully when there are stars to watch, when there are windows whose shadow puppet shows entrance the sleepless dreamer, when there are galaxies that seem to disappear in the blink of a lifetime. The world, simultaneously awake and asleep, dreams on.