What Gets Through to Morning
I. St. Brigid Watches Her Insomniac
How often has wakefulness wrested her
to leave the apartment for a 24-hour chapel
nearby? Twenty-nine unsettled nights now
and she’s ready to pray: after bar time, without
shoes so she can feel warm desert asphalt,
she genuflects before the light at the crosswalk
turns off its orange hand, lets her proceed.
Midnight-to-noon a Midwesterner living against
wheatless elevation, some nights she waits
for one, two cars to pass, pretending the road
is countryside and this 4 a.m. will become worked
by farmhands. Tonight she walks through
the church courtyard, pretends herself ghostlike,
fills her perceived transparency with piano scores,
still frames from silent films, melodies —
collage-cuts pasted to skin with the images
facing outward, backlit by a bit of whiskey and
a cigarette as it ashes.
II. The Insomniac Tries, Then Prays to Her Saint
Wait, and —
or, start over.
How am I supposed to do this?
Dear God, it’s true: I don’t take
those capsules for sleeplessness anymore,
but fill prescriptions all the same —
for the language of side effects,
an education in chemicals, reactions.
A doctor recommended I test these within
my bloodstream but, too,
I would have to open up.
I meant to plant pills in the vegetable garden,
but then the tabby cat started coming around.
No doubt he’s sad too, but certainly
in different dosages.
What wasteful thought, a prayer for
shrubbery from the seeds meant
to lessen longing.
Almost, St. Brigid, I can keep time by phases
of dawn until there is no darkness
in any direction.
It is nearing nautical, 11 degrees
below morning’s horizon.
I know I’m not translucent; I happen to notice light.
Do other lives react to strangers’ kindnesses
some different way?
A person offers space past the waiting room
of melancholy and I bow my head,
appreciative, but shaking.
Oh, no thank you, I’ll save this possible comfort
for a night more desperate, for —
what if there is, only, one offer
I can welcome myself into?
The bed has shaped to my silhouette, not my muscles,
but no, thank you,
I’m yet just a bit more than bone-tired.
Brigid, if you were beside me, when would you
first notice how starless the sky has become?
I think I misunderstood how long I would have
to live with the mistakes of me, aftereffects
of a body fallen in on itself.
Maybe I’ve begun it, prayer: tiredness is a symptom.
I ask for us all to try open everything tonight.about the author