In the country of no sleep, I’ll walk

with myself in these last stretches,

pushing a load of dirt in a wheelbarrow..
Almost winter: the ground hard and cold.

There is growth, though it’s that shade
of evergreen— of what persists from sheer,

hard-knuckled will. After rain, I know
I’ll rake the dry needles, countless

fallen asterisks of brown and pomegranate
from the Japanese maple. I don’t love

labor that seems to offer itself
only as proof of reward we can’t see,

as ticket to some afterlife. And yet I do it
anyway. Who will make toast in the morning,

put on coffee to boil, take a sleeve
of meat from ice to thaw upon the counter,

slice tomatoes into rings? I don’t know
if love is slower than time, or if happiness

comes finally after the greatest,
longest sorrow. When you gather leaves

into lawn bags, if you press down, there is
still always a little room for more.

3 Replies to “In the country of no sleep, I’ll walk”

  1. This is so lovely. Having raked countless dry needles in my Tidewater boyhood, I find the imagery especially evocative. And I’ll paste “I don’t know / if love is slower than time” onto my rusty soul’s rear bumper.

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