Tuesday Poem

Down to Sleep

When it thundered Papa
turned a mild eye to
the skyand counted: one thousand
and one, one thousand
and two . . .
The dog whimpered.
Blue light skewed down the sky,
corkscrews of energy and burnt
air, nosefuls of ozone.
Half an oak peeled back
like lilac bark. The current
slurred in the walls and the radio
lowered its voice. Bedtime,
I thought it said, and down the shaft
of sleep I lowered my crackling
body, past the jagged seams.
Silt replaced my marrow.
The last light I knew
grew in fern of blood inside
my eyelids.
Into the slime my dark flame
spiraled and I was
spent, absent,

by William Matthews
from Sleek for the Long Flight
White Pine Press, 1988