Jacqueline Winter Thomas




     “Come back!  Even as a shadow.  Even as a dream.”










Once I had a dream of death—

firewood, pennyroyal,


the leaves Ophelia carried,

buildings tall as rivers, swept


to disarticulated skeletons.


The dream said words

could sink, said we


could float—told us,

great women must recant


the water, tie the knot.

Tonight we all will


know the world, tonight

we will be carried.








Too rooted to philosophy—

your hands, the metaphysics,


your silver ring, the slender

limbs of stoicism.


Too long I received forms

and never the names for things,


but behind the eyelids

when we sleep, we dream


of speaking cities, lost since childhood

and call this hypnagogia.








I’m in hell,

and you live in New York

which is its own mythology—


the buildings hatching

insects we go on

to kill.


We fear what we have

power over, the face

reminds us of our violence.


And if we vow

to only speak

in echoes,


our very language

will reflect our lack.


And if we vow

to only speak

in fire,


our words will turn

to stone in our mouths.








Do not, after waking,

look out the window

if you wish to remember your dream.


A window is one

world, the dream another.








It’s very cold here and snows every night.


Even across Lethe your letters know

the time, the weather


and for many years I lived in that cold too.


Now, you say, I must relearn the world

warm, the world, brown.








So many names, we wake with


and the windows steal what we remember,


translate every sky to scraper.








If I loved

you, I would walk

out of here.


If I loved you, even the fire

would not keep me,


even the leaves

would absolve me.








Even here, in flame, your image


even here, your voice reaches


even here, we have a tenderness


the streets you walk have long forgotten.








Why do we dream

in the old myths?,

you ask me.


I know we need a poetics of steel

instead of flowers—


know, full well, these acts

are the reliving of

every time Eurydice dies,


but I am still

weaving my hair,


and I am still

pressing weeds,


saying your name


at the window


as if it could,


from the fringe of the earth,


call you back.









Contributing editor Jacqueline Winter Thomas is an M.F.A. candidate in poetry at UNC Wilmington where she teaches courses in creative writing.  Her poems and papers have appeared or are forthcoming in NAR, Barrelhouse, DIAGRAM, Tinderbox, Open House and TAB, among others.  She is interested in the convergence of poststructural poetics and semiotics.  She writes at