“The region of the underworld through which the dead must pass”

I dreamt I sung out of a mouth of tin
and death kissed my mouth of tin
with death’s own mouth which was as verdigris,
as soft solder on my tongue, as a foundry
of Egyptian bronzes smelt of copper and tin:

closed eye to closed eye—
rising sigh to rising sigh—
stilled thigh against stilled thigh—
voice to crystalline
voice as unsilenced lazuli

and jade in their sarcophagi—
lullaby untying lullaby
in syllables of sleep—spy
seduced by cunning spy in conspiracy
of kisses: twin mouth to twin
mouth, death sung out my mouth of tin.

Valerie Wohlfeld

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 21 Number 3, on page 43
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