vision serpent

Shakespeare Sunday

“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.”

- William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I told you some things I learned
About Maya bloodletting rituals
From this book called The Blood of Kings
Sinan bought for me at The Metropolitan
Museum of Art, another place I used to work.
About how it was kings and nobles, women too,
Who bled themselves in order to have visions.
They pierced their shins, their tongues, their
Foreskins with lancets made of stingray
Spines and they
Bled into special bowls
Of paper.
The paper soaked up
The blood.
A vision came out of the blood.
The vision is usually depicted
As a serpent, well, the serpent
Comes out of the blood and in the serpent’s
Open mouth is the vision itself.
The noble people
Who bled themselves in front of
The common people
Were supposed to bear their pain
Stoically. One relief shows Lady
Xòc passing a thornèd rope
Through the bloody hole in her tongue.
As it fell the blood was rubbed
Into the stone hieroglyphs on the walls
Of the temple and cos
Everything’s a hieroglyph in that
World, it’s impossible to separate
Blood, architecture, figuration, and
Pain from language itself.