Ravi Shankar

Thought at Night

Nearly impossible to separate
The roof from the blacking weight
That presses in the screened-off windows
Girding the perimeter of this dusty cupola—
Every line here blurs as I chew
The insides of my chapped lips
To keep from inviting oblivion to hammer
Blood into the moment’s monumental
Supremacy. The air between us dampens
Under the spokes of my unshaved face,
Lolls with the musk between your knees,
How easy it would be…
Surrounded on all sides by obscurity
And not grace—you build nests
While words fly from my mouth like terns
Plunging for prey iridescent beneath
The surf—since talking to you I am thinking
Of betraying her, a thousand miles removed
From our conversation about truth
In lending, a banking term for laying
All your cards out face-up (the gaming
Metaphor for the absence of games),
Though the way you say it,
It seems to mean how we extend
Credit to each other, loaning our bodies
On security, hoping to accrue
The greatest possible interest right now
Not so much as later. The way you say it,
I understand all relationships
Are about exchange. Standing with my arms
Crossed behind my back, I stare
At the great nothing of the roof and the trees,
Slowly taking shape in the greater nothing
Of night, wondering what to do with the dark
Realization that I don’t belong to myself.

Ravi Shankar
Thought at Night is reprinted from Instrumentality (Cherry Grove Collections, an imprint of Word Press, 2004)
Poem, copyright © 2004 by Ravi Shankar
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse