Here’s a link to my poem Starlight Stay, currently appearing in The Adirondack Review.
I wrote this in the middle of the night, up late writing, reading, listening to music, feeling vividly awake and energized. It’s pretty out of character for me to stay up into the wee hours, though, and I remember longing for the magic dust of sleep, and dreams.
How can one sleep with a moon like this? It’s so early it’s not even early, it’s late. I mean early, you’re not up yet, not awake yet, slurps of hot liquid with eyes closed, fan of the mind humming, oscillating between two levels of consciousness, tendons shortened, digestive organs finishing up their work.
Ten-thousand pinpricks of light still glimmer overhead, and you’re already out walking.
Hormones have been secreting, cells have been forming in your bone marrow, the liver is a tireless magician, the sublime workhorse of your heart has been laying low, half-drunk old man in a hammock. And, like a gathering wind in the distance, love rises.
It rises above lies and dictations, the sound of the mind. It rises above the texture of your words, the swirling ether of your thoughts. It blows among the thistles, it blows through your whole life.
A love so impossibly vast, unbearable its confinement.
The cat sort of fell onto his side and stretched out against the cool ceramic floor, finding relief as he allowed gravity to press him against the tiles checkered blue and white. I could see his little belly rising and falling through the shaggy fluff of his hair, the motor of his purr shifting into second gear as he recovered from a long day spent seeking shade.
Shirtless and glistening with sweat I went back outside, guzzled a cold beer, and inspected the handiwork of my neatly-stacked woodpile with a critical eye. One of the corners had fallen and I’d had to rebuild it. Satisfied, I took a cold shower, changed the bandage on my wounded finger, sat down at my desk and dreamed of patience, the smell of fresh-cut sage, and books whose pages have all been tenderly dog-eared.
Just then came the rain, out of nowhere in grand voluptuous droplets, meeting the roof with an effervescent thrumming, so hard and so fast that I could not finish my note-writing at the desk, but instead leapt to the open door, not able to bear the thought of missing such weather for anything but the deepest sleep. As if I were witnessing a ceremony the wind sprung up, a Babylonian offering a prayer to an oracle. The wind came over the hill on top of that rain, opening its arms and raising its voice, it sprung up and refreshed me, stirring the cat back to life.
I smelled the breath of the world in that wind, a breath of earthy fragrant smoke, a breath like a thousand hanging gardens whose perfume must have inspired the invention of incense long ago. A door somewhere inside the house creaked and slammed, and gatherings of leaves like colored scarves were disbanded from beneath the trees, shaken loose, and – like me – sent spinning. They fluttered, twittered, sputtered, and then were driven to the ground, one hundred defeated ballerinas, one hundred overpowered belly-dancers.
Starlight let me open to you, to the space between us. Please don’t go to bed early. Stay up with me. Stay up late and let me not wither. Let mystery not be ponderous, but held lightly and without the use of my hands.
Stay into the deep hours when my mind’s simmering viscous broth gives way to cool clear water and my heart burns at a high and reckless temperature. Watch the fire blaze through the window of my chest, sweet smoke rising through the bars of my rib cage. Stay up with intricate whispers, elaborate cravings, convoluted borders of shadows, an astounding thirst, calypso music, earlobes hanging down, genie-like.
Stand balanced on the edge of the blade dividing sleep from awake, and marvel at how alone and not-alone we all are, how the spirit voices are always there but do not just obediently come when called, how the tide is the sound of the ocean breathing.
And only once the marveling is done, only once I have been properly astounded, sufficiently rattled, let me surrender to the unremembered temple of well-fed lions – the drawn cloak of sleep.