The Bookmarks of Edgar Allan Poe

It must have been a couple years ago that I dreamt I was sitting in a waiting room, along with a woman, when a man with an eccentric tweed-suit and a twirly mustache came in. His sole trade was with intricately-worked bookmarks, true masterpieces in their own right. The ones he showed me were based on Edgar Allan Poe, and he let me handle them. If you looked intently at them, they would fascinate you into the story they portrayed.

One curious thing is that none of the worlds I entered were any story from Poe that I know of. The first transported me to a cavity in the earth, shaped like an empty cone, and all around I could see the craggy contour of the rock surrounding me. The center was a black pit, and I was on a ledge that was not made of rock but a very smooth, stainless-steel that jutted from the wall of the cave, and lead to a little fissure in the wall, filled with an infernal, deep red-light. I think I remember torches along the walls, but perhaps I am just trying to answer how I could see inside this cavern.

The edge of the ledge was razor-sharp. I became aware that the stainless-steel meant the ledge had been built, and that whoever built it could be found by following the red light. A terrible sense of dread came over me; I felt this was some kind of Hell. But I was not alone. The woman in the waiting room appeared sometime after me. While I was not at ease, she was enraptured; I remember the lilt in her voice, and the pitch of her delight. She wanted to explore this place, but I did not agree, so I left her behind and escaped by an act of will.

You would think I would have learned my lesson, but I decided to try another bookmark of Edgar Allan Poe. This one took me into an old orphanage that was set on fire. Children were running around frantically, but there was no means of escape. Bunk-beds were all around, and this was the bottom floor where an old-time stove was at the center. From this stove a fire swelled, as if it were the source of the catastrophe. One little boy decided that since there was no way out, he would just go ahead and dive head-first into the mouth of the stove. I remember how he screamed; it was horrid.

I think I woke up after that. Anyway, here’s a little bit of Poe:

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?” 

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