Bronze and Dream, the Gypsies Come

by Zoe Gilbert

I wait for dusk, and walk into the wood.


Copper brow, silver glance, that is what I seek. Sharp shoulders, satyr hips, for is it not through the woods that the gypsies come, bronze and dream?


I please myself and take the scented paths, away from the wide green hunting rides. Yellow apples, rich as pie, an impossible pear tree, branches bent with gluts like grapes, fountains of fruit that do not fall at my feeble shake.


Deeper in, purple mushrooms swell. I know them well, I would scatter them into fizzing butter, a violet feast for a trusting lover, but not now.


Bronze and dream, the gypsies come. My pallor gleams in the dusk dark of the wood, my fingers white as bone as I tear a sheath of bark from a fallen birch, cuff it around the flute of my arm.


When the gypsies come, says the song, they will make of your heart white necklaces and rings. Mine will make fine beads.


I sing a song, in harmony with the loose lines of the wood, a sly thread that meanders in neither a major nor a minor key. I’ve known men afraid of meanders, men afraid of being profoundly lost, of not finding the edge, the yellow lamp post signal. I am not lost. I am the signal, a moonish light, to draw the bronze and dream. I shake out the smoke wisp of my hair, I unwrap myself, let my ribbed breast show, as lovely as moon on wind-rippled pond.


He made a fiddle-fiddle of her long breast bone, the wanderer with a knack for a song, and the bones of the miller’s daughter would sing only her sad tale. It is not so sad, to be made into music. I will let the gypsy decide for me, when he comes through the wood in bronze and dream.


I have forgotten myself. Leave the mushrooms, the apple rot, seek out copper, the fox flash of the forest, for there’s only the last breath of light to see by, light breathed against a shell a sky.


Back on the wide ride, for am I not a hunter? Horseless, perhaps, but my feet move fast. Beneath the spindles of my legs my feet still show muscle between the sinews, they tread with the energy of earth on their soles. Trunks are blue here, tall and smooth. Puffballs gather in the fur of moss between their feet. They were a magician’s trick, dried and lit and tossed onto the stage. What will loom through the lightning flash and bloom of grey spore smoke? I’ll conjure my gypsy bronze, now that the forest begins to dream. His silver gaze will lick at my moon white skin, the whitebeams will turn their leaves and flutter bright.


The wide ride is deep green hole. So green, forest. I came here for copper, silver, bronze but your green is insistent, despite the autumn apple musk, the mushroom reek. You do not recoil at my spindle limbs, but your silence says, too early, love, too soon. Dusk may be the day’s autumn, but your winter white won’t hurry us.


I disagree. There is urgency, my heart will be turned to necklaces and rings, and they will be white.


I strip away my coverings, my skirt shrugs off my satyr hips and floats away like puffball smoke. I stride the ride and lift my flute arms high, ribs like rippled moon water. Her bones would only sing her tale, the dead fiddle-girl by the wanderer’s path. My bones will summon copper from the forest and in its glow will follow bronze and dream, my heart will clack in beads around his neck and tighten on his fingers, stripes of white. Up I stretch, tall as the blue trunks, my fingers reach and run against the ripple of dry green tongues.


The sky beyond is half asleep and as it starts to dream I watch the leaves turn at the stroke of my fingertips. I touch and touch; I trail gold, copper, ruby, rust. White fingers, bones that play my tale’s song, strip away green and the trees are speckled now with gleaming metals. The wide ride becomes a burning mile of copper. It tinges my bone white skin. The sky is blushing with its dream of evening and in its rosy gift of final light, there he stands, sharp shouldered silhouette against the fire. He reaches up, the way only a last-light streak of shadow can, and with dark fingers he grasps my wrists, my ruthless hands.


How beautiful I will be, a necklace white against that throat of bronze, a song of autumn in the wood each time the dusky sky begins to dream.

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“venían, bronce y sueno, los gitanos.”


– Lorca, 'Romance de la luna, luna’

Illustration by Kay Sales

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