You were dancing in that dream
and, oh, so slowly, as if in the mouth
of a white shark, as if in the bubbling cone
of a volcano, and this was the life
that had escaped you, the life that was forbidden.
How deliciously his arms embraced you
you could feel his strength, the taut smoothness
of each muscle -- and it was clear that here,
at last, was the man who could move you,
who would anticipate each ripple. How completely
he surrounded you, this true friend of your spirit,
cousin of your pain, this warrior and brother.
If only he would emerge from the dream with you
to slay your keepers, those who had caged your heart,
who had weighed your soul and found it wanting.
If only you could linger forever in his arms, this acolyte
of your pleasure, you might accompany him
into the field of light and fire, you might burn with him
in the realm of the living.


Those who held you fast
but not safe, who had cast
a life-long spell over
your life
how could they know the past
would root deep,
that a gold locket would keep
your girlhood bound,
or that the woman you are
would shudder near their tomb?


Here is a latchhook rug, a paint-by-numbers scene
that drips with the dews of childhood. The rug
has a tiger print and the picture a queen in a forest.
Take these small gifts and live:
here are your treasured books, the albums and diaries
you burned, and here love of God, and here love of yourself.
I restore them all to you.
Hook strand over strand. Fill in the waiting numbers.
Let the pain you have lived with go free -- uncage it now.
You had forgotten the give of the grassy earth, the lift
of the light on your leaping body.

Charles Fishman
CHARLES FISHMAN is director of the Distinguished Speakers Program at the State University of New York at Farmingdale, where he previously directed the Visiting Writers Program for 18 years. His books include Mortal Companions, The Firewalkers, Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust, and The Death Mazurka, which was selected by the American Library Association as one of the outstanding books of the year (1989) and nominated for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. His eighth chapbook, Time Travel Reports, was published by Timberline Press in Fall 2002.