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Michael Van Walleghen's Poetry

IN THE CHARIOT DRAWN BY DRAGONS

Such a chariot has Helios, my fathrs father,
Given to me to defend me from my enemies.

Euripedes, Medea


Fascinating the way our dreams
accommodate the muddled here


and now--the phone we answer
in our sleep for instance
before it startles us awake


or just this morning, the cat
killing something in the yard--


a baby rabbit it turns out
squealing that one high note
only nightmares comprehend--


the one where real children
lie dismembered in their beds


as, indeed, I heard it spoken
on the evening news--Medea
of course, was never mentioned


although I understood at once
the way we often do in dreams


that it was she again--disguised
in this last, horrific incarnation
to look like almost anyone


(NEW STANZA)

a forgotten second cousin say
whose husband studied neutron


stars, black holes--matters
so quantum mechanically intense
so distant, it would take her


nearly fifteen billion years
of living practically abandoned


in married student housing
with two frenetic, infant sons
and no help at all from anyone


before she understood at last
that everything was hopeless--


that nothing, not even light
not the merest glimmer of it
could ever escape such gravity--


a force so crushing in the end
she could barely lift the knife


and wake us up again, heart
pounding, to some poor rabbit
screaming as the sun comes up


or Medea in her bloody bathrobe
and the chariot drawn by dragons.