Queen of Shadows

In the dream I am visiting the Queen of Shadows. It is night, of course, as it always is in her cold marble palace. We are trying on clothes.

Black upon black upon black, in every conceivable material and hue: velvet in the deepest black of space, starred with diamonds; silk in shimmering opalescent folds gleaming with peacock colors; black lace intricate as the fabric of uneasy dreams, convoluted and occult; midnight leather soft as touch, heavy with the souls of animals.

The Queen of Shadows tosses me a high-necked, long-sleeved gown, buttoned from throat to ankle with thousands of tiny buttons: a priest’s cassock, austere from the front, the back completely open down to shadowed cleft. She cannot wear it, as she has raven’s wings instead of arms; pinions rustle open and closed, longing to be able to touch, to hold.

I run my hands up her marble sides, inhaling the heavy myrrh fragrance of her blueblack hair and the stringent scent of feathers. I reach for a half-glimpsed swatch of color: a midnight-blue robe, seamless mosaic of every color of night from palest twilight to deepest 3:00 am despair to fragile predawn. I slide the fantastic robe over her shoulders, deep slits for wings, fanned collar edged with diamond constellations; the Queen of Shadows turns in a dizzying swirl of velvet and satin, mirrored and remirrored in the shifting shadows of her marble hall, wings stretching, fanning. I stand in the center of the maelstrom of streaming fabric and ebony hair and feathers, looking into her deep blue eyes as she closes wings like dream and nightmare around me.

I wake to my own tumbled bed; the Queen of Shadows longs to hold a lover, but she is made only for flight. I lay back beside my lover, who breathes peacefully in the darkness. I have arms, and am good at keeping, holding close…I would prefer wings.