The Novice Insomniac
In her kitchen, she holds night
in a box. Inside, the moon drifts
and catches on shred of clouds.
The clouds catch
and slip through trees.
In their bed, sleepers do not count
the hours she holds them on her lap.
At four, wind. At five, moon sets in hills.
Sleepers scurry into cupboards.
In one corner, insomniacs wrap string,
sweep up clipped moans, sighs.
Her helpers, they tidy streets
under shaggy pines, record
the hours of slate.
A stray care cruises one street,
then another. Stops.
A man gets out, knocks
on doors, kicks a garbage can.
Insomniacs glance up
from winding thoughts
into small boxes, from piling
the boxes by the curb.
Please the man addresses them,
I cannot sleep. They shrug, point
to stars crowding the ceiling
for those few quick black hours
before dawn. Lights! Lights!
Tiny lights. She shakes the box,
stars spin, maintain their forms.
“The Novice Insomniac” is from The Novice Insomniac (Copper Canyon Press, 1996).