Vigil by Meg Reynolds

For the longest time I thought the night was furred,
a mass of soft hair fallen each dusk.

In my first hours, I rode my father’s chest as though
it were the back of an animal or woolen hill, rolling with slowness
and unquestionably the whole Earth.

Cushioned by his hair I spent my first night there—
above his heart, lungs, ribs.

Small with early birth, nothing in me had hardened yet,
not even the minute musculature of my lips
learning to curve at the breast and drink.

As my mother slept, he gave me more time in his warmth
without moving, without crushing me in the size of his hands;

my young father in wonder as to how anything thrives
and us both asleep where it was safe.

The next time I saw something so tender I was lying naked
with a lover. As he rolled over, his heart slid sideways and hung
in the loose rigging in his chest.

It was soft, the size of my infant body, and padded like a flipper in sand.
I was drunk having suckled at a wine bottle all night, young and dozy
and lost in the heart’s hammering.

Green-veined, I stretched my long neck to him, my lips hardened
with curve, to keep him alive by study and vigilance.

I was held sleeping in my father’s arms so I could grow up and learn
this exact terror, here, where nowhere is safe,

the whole Earth soft with perishing. It rises off us like hair.
So we hold each other, watch closely as though
our beholding has anything to do with survival.


Date: 2017

By: Meg Reynolds (19??- )

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