The Somnambulist

The pale, pale sleeping girl
dances on a tightrope over the abyss.
Wind flips up her cherry blossom tutu
and below, chintz dress bodices
and chambray work shirts
inflate in a simultaneous gasp.
The pale, pale girl sleeps on,
mute, obedient, nameless,
but in her dreams, she’s flying
over timber-flayed mountains,
over granite- faced villages.
She holds her paper parasol
as carefully as she was told to,
even as she falls.
The faces under stove pipe hats
open in horror
at this waste of breasts and milky limbs
but the faces under egret feathers
snap shut in satisfaction
at precisely those same things,
as ladies pretend to faint.