Sister dirty cheap upon a wood
floor; ants heap coffee grounds
to dig a hole down the center:
a fiddle-player without a bow,
a pianist out of keys. Climb,
“Oh my little sister!” And sing
a song of reason, beauty, blue.
Weak music drips upon a wood
table; fingers clucking electric
letters to drill a bigger hole:
a spider with only four legs,
a wingless wasp still stings.
Cry, my sister. Write tears
with an old-fashioned feather.
Dribble, dabble, lay your breast
upon the table; quibble, scribble
with bruised knees hard-pressed
into the floor. I’ll drink a cup,
then spit and laugh and listen
as you beg for reason, beauty.
Sister drew a forest so thick,
I can find neither footsteps
nor socks. But no line drawn
will ever mean more than my
drowned, mournful defeat.
Pin pretty blue butterflies;
type neat black-ink labels.
We dream of wings, strings,
quiet seaside coffee shops,
and gulls scream, “Hallelujah!”
I wish we were here together,
you knew a beetle from a drum,
that written words could sing.
Sister slams soft into a wood
door, snaps sweet as cookies
crumble. All the ants gather:
it’s time to collect your purse,
leave your key on the table.
I march to the crickets’ beat
as the Queen rots on a shelf.
Light a fire, “Oh, my sister!”
Beneath the mind of the host (in a dark forest far from the house of the host) dwells a room that lies subterranean, just beneath the forest floor. In its center, growing from a platform: an old tree, thick around and squat. It appears as a dwarf tree in this room but corresponds to another on the forest floor, a mirror image, as if the two were one, the trunk rising through the center of the room to emerge above.
In this room, on either side of the tree, run man-made, shallow channels of water fed from a nearby river. These channels run parallel through the room, from one side to the other, dividing the room in half (in some conceptualizations of this room, only one channel runs through the center of the room, with an island in the middle from which grows the tree). Near where these channels enter and exit are doors on either side, four in total, high in the room near ground level, and stairs carved from the walls that descend from each of the four doors to the floor of the room.
The room is both grand and suffocating; tall of ceiling and enclosed like a cellar; constructed, square in shape but caked with mud, carved from stone. It is a room of dark dreams and earthly comforts, from where life roots, flows, and dreams.
It is the room of the squat and gnarled tree, both stunted and eternal. The Duchess refers to the room as the Cellar and does not go here; its structure can only be known in dreaming.