In the dream the girls come and the best one
is in love with Charlie Chaplin. We were delirious
back then; half buried in beach sand--
we let Charlie Chaplin scuttle over us
and into the castle. It was lovely, finally
to stand and feel that dusty mantle
falling off, and when I was a child
I had a vial of Charlie Chaplin that I'd filled
by breaking thermometers into it.
There was nothing I couldn't float on my clutch
of silver Charles until I dropped it,
and it disappeared through a hole in the floor.
When you were Charlie Chaplin
you were starving and your mother was raving,
half gone, so you dreamed yourself feathered
and at night you climbed onto the roof
where you teetered and howled.
I married Charlie Chaplin when I was fifteen
and pregnant, and I wrapped myself
in sea moss and I called the moss a wedding gown
and the snail that sat on my finger
was like an ember burning through me,
tracing smudges across the span
of my very own pantomime heart.