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In the devastated countryside

My desire is the pleasure of waking moments after the person asleep beside me has risen to leave, having been however briefly peripheral to her consideration of sleep. A moment particular, composed within the ephemera of each hour. Though the subtlest pleasure is the passage into sleep. What is gently pulled beneath the crest of that water is lost, along with something of you, as though unwittingly you had appeared in the background of a stranger’s photograph. You wake to the alienating residue of choice. Chance has constructed it thus, and the granular actions of personal routine make no impression on it, or anything else either. If weather were subject to similar considerations of self, it would surely respond as most cities do to the slightest disruptive phenomena within its scope by novel alterations of interior thrust. Near the beltway, three ravens circle and swoop in a roiling company of seagulls, calling loudly upon the narrative faculty to assimilate detail. It can seem as though ravens exist at all only in the service of literary figures. The gilded facades, if it wasn’t for birds, and the soft shattering light that attends to them, would have to do for distraction from this afternoon rush. We had just passed a decorative floral spray when traffic locked in peaceful contemplation of its own inner life. If silence permeates melody, and blankness inundates color, is it the absence or instance of choice that underpins gridlock? Everyone may as well lie down to sleep, along with the flowers. His earliest memory was of asking for water after being tucked in to sleep, for which his father climbed the stairs to scold him, now ninety years in the past. But distance is distance from a rooftop, or alternately, distance since, as in, we’ve come a great distance since you were a child and thirsty on the eve of the Wall Street crash.




Andy Stallings lives and works at Deerfield Academy in Western Massachusetts. He teaches poetry and coaches cross country and track. His second collection with Rescue Press, Paradise, was released in 2018.