weekend-readsNever Sleep; Dear Empty Page,

Andrew Grace

Never Sleep

Why shouldn’t it begin at midnight?
In this dark room: a pen, a page, water,
a television in its wreath of pain,

a distance all around me like a sea
in that it roils and stays still,
waves pitching the eye off keel.

Attention as anchor,
hooked in the black weeds
that move like flame on the seafloor.

In the window, birds scatter
like chips of a fractured whole.
Now rain that sounds like searching

through Bible pages. Bad omens.
If tonight was a man he would have
the number 13 tattooed on his neck.

If tonight was a poem, it would be called
“The Else.” But there is no poem
and but the one man who is still awake,

not knowing what to do
with his hands. Let us pray:
Dear Empty Page, fill me in.

Dear Empty Page,

You were looking to be something else.
A fragment torn
from a forgotten parchment

and grafted onto something I dreamt—
the sea’s pulse, an open mouth—
to be a made thing

that, when read, vanishes with use
like a bar of soap. Or maybe you were looking
for permission to be

a myth about the field you lost
last night and the night before.
Or you wanted to be the grave

that keeps my father.
You are the sun—
there is a certain time eyes

can spend staring at you
until they cease to see.
You are the color of sparks

or scars. When I summon
and darken you, or you summon
and darken me, one of us is made lesser.

Tonight it is you.
You wanted to be a new way
Of speaking, something God broke,

A devotional the meek carry in their mouths.
You wanted to be earned,
to be a journal wrung

from a year of frost.
You wanted to be darker than blood
And you are.

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