Back to Issue Thirty-Four

Midnight is a Beautiful Curse


Blue water in a pond goes black, spills
down the gutter like a vine, its mineral
smell, its splash of black pearls.

The moon is a silver spoon sunk
in the galaxy’s cold soup.  I don’t know
where the light ends and I begin.

When I sleep I’m a vulture, my bald
red head slick in the belly of a deer,
my eyelashes lit with gore, my dark mouth

done with kissing.  I unwind its power
with my beak, devour its unborn
into eternity, disappear its entrails

from a bed of acorns and pine needles.
When I wake I turn back into a scientist,
looking for the intersection

between my heart and my hunger.
If we understood the beauty of the world
we would curse it, let it eat us alive

if we let it, the hidden music
inside us measured out like a necklace
of bones, alleys we cultivate

in the quiet, the hidden life that grows
without light: mushrooms and mold,
spider plants and snake plants, dracaena,

the delicate, narrow, many-leaved fronds
of the maidenhead fern, turning
in the dark on its thin black stalk.

Dorianne Laux’s sixth collection, Only As the Day is Long: New and Selected Poems was named a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her fifth collection,The Book of Men, was awarded The Paterson Prize. Her fourth book of poems, Facts About the Moon, won The Oregon Book Award and was short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also the author of AwakeWhat We Carry, a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award; Smoke; as well as a fine small press edition, The Book of Women. She is the co-author of the celebrated text The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry.

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