LULLABY FOR RELUCTANT SLEEPERS


         Rest us as a favorite book upon the pillow, and close
         our lids upon the darkness. The night keeps active
         those it owns. The turning and the walking, the sighing
         and the persistent. Let us set down what we choose.
         Pull the long thin thread of sleep taut, take one step out
         and fall.

         We never wanted to leave there.
                     We pressed backward down the street.
                                 Drifted listless through the night.
         And then home, empty as the poor we pass along the way.
         Murmuring among ourselves, we give our useless words
         over to slurring. Everything empty sits quiet by itself.


         Give rest to those of us who do not rest, who wave
         the flags of warning through the storm. The nearsilent
         rustle of the fabric will appear in our dreams.
         Fulfill one promise. The way a hand will sometimes
         settle into another hand. Set our hands upon the bed
         and wait.

         We talked late through the night.
                     Our voices slipped simply into comfort.
                                 The telephone was cool and warm at once.
         In the dark so much is colored with finality. Anything new
         seems sudden and too much, before it too sifts itself
         away. The night calling us back, then calling us in.


         The ink nestles down into the fibers of the paper. Slow
         vibrations of the lowest piano strings, too, wind down.
         That movement of those strings that once was visible.
         Let consciousness fall dormant, while poetry, dark and shiny
         undulates within us. We imitate children—they just give
         themselves up.

         I locked the door.
                     Nothing was still.
                                 Everything moved.
                                             I thought of you
         in wonder with the city on fire. The shadows seem
         to mock us, talk to us. Let them cradle us in their arms.


         Let us steal the sleepy and the lazy from their places.
         We can keep them for ourselves. The lessons of the tired
         are the lessons of the dead. An act of remembering
         the ones for whom we wake. They are perfect in the art
         of ignoring, and confident in its residual effects.
         Trustworthy as a kiss.

         Here, give me breath.
                     We will not smile.
                                 We will not see.
                                             We cannot hear
         the wick burning out, nor smell its sulfur smoke.
         Our resistance is simpleness, and no show of strength.



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