A Lover, Asleep

A Lover, Asleep
Ada Hoffmann

The woman he loves, in dreams, is not woman but dragon,
emerald wings beating beneath him. Spine aflex

in the wind, mouth an emberglow, she swoops.
Burns the barren ground to life. The dream shifts:

now she prowls, a tigress, he a flash
of pacing white. Paws aspring from softened earth.

A third and final shift: she is the grass.
They are tangled as softly and surely as briars

as if there was a difference between thorns and hearts.
Outside him, in the dark, the dew drips down.

He has tucked his soft body where no one will see
its excesses, its shameless grasping at light.

He would like to be small, a worm, a cuddled mole:
greatness of heart is punished here. In one hour

he will put on his peasant’s shoes and flee
to the waking gloom where they think him

a farmer’s boy, unquested, unchosen.
The squelch of two boots and the empty sky.

Ada Hoffmann is an autistic graduate student who lives in southern Ontario trying to teach poetry to computers. Her human poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Stone Telling, and Uncanny. You can find her online at http://ada-hoffmann.com/ or on Twitter at @xasymptote.