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The Book of Nights

                                    William Wright

Again, wind drags the alphabet of nothing
and everything through bent trees, leaves
that utter promises already broken,

half-heard whispers that seize the dark
threads of sleep from my eyes with surgical
care. The body’s warmth is

the body’s assent to drowning,
its consent to winter.
And yet summer’s green gears

grind the heart to such friction that it scalds,
it blights the center: The clock’s hands burn
and I turn to face the wall.

Far away, a girl in a rust-crazed city laughs
toward madness, plucking strands of her hair
from her scalp, one by one, dark red

hair she’s combed a thousand times
into a garnet veil. Something had changed
her brain to foxfire, something has

placed a dull green light in her mouth.
When she finally sleeps, her hands rest, puritanical,
prophetic, across her chest. We share nothing

save a steady unraveling, the ways
things are siphoned by ditches and stars,
rain and salt, wrenched away by force

of rivers and blossoms to the source of any
small loss where a little, just a little
truth leaks through.

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