Landscape Crossed with Sleep & Prayer
The stars are not real, not
the trees, the lake. How far it is
to another body. How fast the mind’s
leap. Now I lay me down
to the dead. Their names are still windows
to a doorless place. I would only ask them
where, for what are places when we
sleep? Now I lay me down to be
the object of what will soon be lost.
To what or to whom should I pray?
That tomorrow you be exactly hungry
beside me. The stars and trees are not real. I swim
across the lake of your body. I drown. I wake.
When after the years I can no longer assemble
the flesh task of you I recall neither token nor
photo, but take the faint sweat-scent of your blouse, its
distant cargo, where to gain my face
means the past is not equal to today, prepositionless,
pooled now, evaporating like your phrase, Make it last. There
did I not glimpse a tided shadow in its smallest detail? The organ
bore a heaved weight in
air. The ashes
Mark Irwin’s sixth collection of poetry, TALL IF, was published by New Issues in the fall of 2008. He teaches in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles and Colorado. Recent work appears in Antioch Review, APR, Georgia Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry, and Tri-Quarterly.