poem by a. alvarez

The Bad Dream and the Photograph

Even in sleep your shad­ow watch­es, me
Your whis­per rus­tles through the sleep­ing room
As though you moved in silks. Why keep on trying?
Noth­ing can turn you full-face to the noon.

I fool myself with pains you can­not feel,
You are con­tort­ed on anoth­er wheel.

It is some ill­ness haunts you. Thin as water
Your cry draws out my pain and breath in one—
The whole thing flick­ers to a halt. You fade
And I per­haps might gape to find you gone.

But only stir and know you will not sleep
Gaz­ing oblique­ly through the chilly dawn.
For what? The uneasy trance will nev­er break,
Your smil­ing nev­er save you from the dark,
Nor I for know­ing you be less alone.


from the paris review


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