The Opposite of Nighttime

by Sarah Shapiro


Awakened by thunder, I lie in the dark

yet here in the dark I cannot lie.

All that by day is dim, is stark

when here in the dark by night I lie.

There was a dream but I can't recall

what I was doing there at all.

I was in a dream but lightning caught fire

on the hem of the dream and I awoke.

I tried to remember, but no longer tired,

forgot the dream as the thunder spoke:

"What are you doing? Where do you stand

among all the dreams that by day you planned?

There was a day but you can't recall

what you did yesterday at all.

Thousands of words in a drift of sand.

Thousands of deeds in a drift of sand."

The clock ticked its questions, the skies told time.

The stars behind clouds called my bluff, and this rhyme

got twisted up in my blankets. All asunder

went my plans for tomorrow. Continued the thunder:

"Your dreams are but dreams, by day or by night.

How is your wrong all that different from right?

Wake up! Go to sleep! It's all the same thing.

You dream you're awake and awake when you dream.

Your days fly by on ego's wings,

Your days are filled with empty things.

Thousands of thoughts in a drift of sand,

Thousands of moments in a drift of sand."

I switch on the lamp and Reader's Digest

fills up my mind with American dreams.

At last, determined to get my rest

I turn it off.

It's strange. It seems

that what in the light is easily denied

in the night's too bright for me to hide:

the only kindness I do that's kind

is the kindness I do with You in mind,

my only words less false than true

are those I know are heard by You,

the only ground that does not slide

away from my feet like sand on either side

is the ground I walk in search of You.

The hours drag by, but at last—what's this?

The darkness is blowing a goodbye kiss

and now at the window a tentative dawn

is whispering greetings. The stars are gone.

As morning gropes softly with long, pale gloves

I linger back to the sleep my heart loves,

and when I awake, curtains lifting on a breeze

inform me the day has arrived.

Oh, what a tease

that darkness! How heartless thunder's anger,

scaring me like that when there was really no danger.



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