On Falling Asleep Reading Scripture
by Pablo Hernandez
I dreamt of vineyards in the midday heat —
gazelles at play in craggy mountain silence;
the desert caravans brought perfume sweet,
and midnight watchmen prowled in might and violence.
I dreamt of you, my love, my Shulamite,
dancing in veils, lit by a crimson fire,
as if entranced. I was the king that night.
We ran, and heard the sistrum and the lyre.
When I awoke, I heard a gentle croon —
a turtledove was at the windowsill.
It left as quickly as it came; its tune
lingered, and you were sleeping still.
The bird is gone — it left the bride-to-be.
When you wake up, I’ll hope you dreamt of me.
I am a senior, and I sing bass in the school’s a cappella choir, as well as compose, perform and record music in my spare time. Also, I’m a voracious reader of non-fiction.
Do you write sporadically or regularly?
I tend to write in short bursts of productivity. More often than not, I’ll just sit down after months of not writing anything and have something out in fifteen minutes. The muses work in mysterious ways.
What artists and/or writers inspired or influenced your work?
The sonnet I wrote freely borrows imagery from my favorite book of the Hebrew Bible, the Song of Songs (sometimes called the Song of Solomon, or Canticles). The book is effectively a group of love poems secreted away in the miscellany of the Torah. Like all biblical literature, it’s buried under layers and layers of interpretation and tradition, and I’m in the esteemed company of artists such as St. John of the Cross and Marc Chagall in referencing it in my own work.
How do you resonate with your piece? Why is it
personal to you?
It’s a problem of juxtaposed vibes, I think. The Song of Songs is suffused with the cultural connotations of a civilization long lost to us, that of the Fertile Crescent in the last millennium before Christ. After one has been immersed in this far-away world — especially in that tender state between sleep and wakefulness — the transition from it to our typical suburban life and loves can be jarring. The sonnet I’ve written might help blur the boundary between that world and ours.