Mirage

Suddenly there is motion in the desert. Arms like scarves signal me over out of the sun, under the tent strewn with pillows, plates of fruit and wine. As I stare at the billowing walls I'm grabbed by a man in armor who doesn't speak but stretches his tongue out beyond the grid of his helmet licking each crevice, each turn my body takes.

He drapes me in white silk, and I float from cushion to cushion afraid to know where I am.

The billows become halls, a continuous sway of space where I wander, always the clatter of his steps close by. I'm allowed to touch nothing but him, feel nothing but him, his silver hands, the chalice from which I must drink.

Again, you can make a case for calling this an erotic poem —one that focuses on physical rather than emotional love. Certainly the images are overt. The setting is a desert, an allusion to all those erotic Arabian (k)nights. But also notice the fantastic element of Martin's piece, combining Medieval images with Middle Eastern ones, coupled with her title: "Mirage." The knight is imagined — extraterrestrial, almost, given the setting—a desert in the mind.

As such, her poem falls under the extranatural category.

Let's attempt to define it: "Any poem addressing or involving divine, supernatural or extraterrestrial entities and/or human beings in a setting that exists beyond earth or only in the mind."

Certainly, this type of poem can be found in the literary canon. In some sense, Beowulf— that old English epic featuring a fire-breathing dragon —is extranatural. And poets throughout time have offered up their prayers to deities, from sun-gods to Zeus, from Jupiter to Jesus.

Here's a brief summary of common types:

The Metaphysical Poem. Typically, a metaphysical poem employs a "conceit" or an extended metaphor or other comparison to convey its theme. Here is an excerpt from a sonnet by John Donne who uses a lovelike conceit of submission to God:

Yet dearly'I love You,'and would be loved fain,

But am betrothed unto Your enemy.

Divorce me,'untie or break that knot again;

Take me to You, imprison me, for I,

Except You'enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except You ravish me.

The Theological Poem. This type deals with a concept of religion (sin, goodness, penance, etc.). Here is an excerpt from such a poem by George Herbert, a seventeenth-century contemporary of Donne:

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