by Wael Al-Mahdi (2011). A poem inspired by an oft recurring dream theme. It is a picture, frozen in words, of one aspect of a prolific unconscious.
My constant affliction -which seizes with sere conscience
A poet’s soul; when the sun, at its zenith, and the night, in recess
Ghastly images unfold, like chapters of misery-
Is wading into the sea, being swept by the winds
Which rage towards the open. Becoming the waves’ ward
Which at first carry my weight; then with divine indifference
Cavalierly let go, neither for form, nor life, caring.
I sink into the layers of waters consolidated
With fateful design, like a forsaken plummet.
The viscous deep portends primordial oblivion:
It, with repeated blows, persistent, expels
Hope from its shell, like a discarded sea-creature
At the end of its tether.
Thus this godless enormity blows out human normalcy,
Like a candle – a small fire god, losing its cadence -
Fell mum, in sheets of rhythmic rain.
The expansive sea, its life-giving equalled
Only by its wont to end life wantonly:
Mother to flesh, father to matter,
Granting, as surely as it claims;
Counting in its drama, and claiming as its own
The birth and rebirth of sovereign gods;
Nor disdaining to suckle from its watery udders
Those humblest, yet most prodigal, primary animals.
Who has not had drenched nightmares -
in this prime womb – of aquatic dissolution?
The winds, meanwhile, with deliberate blows -
Blowing where they list – rack my sodden soul
With many-fold arms, now intent, now feigning aloofness
With the will to fell my bowed legs from under;
How petty, how full with ill mind
Must nature be, to set its wrath on a single man?
Terror unabated it has apportioned me
With fear and trembling of a godless horizon
And constant checks with a restive eye
For imminent dangers, with evil impeding.
With what to crown its wanton horror
Than with terrors withdrawn, and threats unresolved?
For, though at close quarters, the choppy wind
And outstretched sea, their ultimatum rescind
Pulling back, at the teetering moment
Where victory was at point of consummation.
These dreams, find I, do constantly inspire -
Like their mother and medium, nature itself -
A picture of the borderline, of entropy frozen
At critical moment, its hands eternally bound
From wreaking further destruction.
Thus stands on its own merits my fey predicament
In majestic arrogance, refusing to be judged
Itself, with cosmic mantle, judging inferior
All who would recklessly pronounce a judgment.
Nature, obstinate, neither lending full leash
To insensate death; nor, in its fickleness,
Granting full licence to the full genius of life.