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Awake again this quietest hour between midnight and dawn, seeing  
by what light leaks out through the last dream’s cracks, minutes  

one ought not make lasting commitments, I order a potter’s wheel  
up from the dark. I slap down a lump of the clay of the rest of my life  

on that disc like a fretful bet, thump, got my hands slipping wet, and I press 
into the fast-turning mass, shaping. 

                                                           Hunched close, I pour my shadow’s hope/ 
sorrow mix over the clay, so before it’s a bowl, it may sense…. 

Each hand’s heel and palm under to lift, then one delves from the top  
to open a dark in the dark, a belly or womb, like in the broad urn on the mantel  
where we drop our gloves and keys.  

                                                            Then, fingers and thumb at the rim drawing  
an emptiness up, already the brine of my breath spills in, the new hollow brims 
with a suspension swirling along with the spin,  

                                                                              and in it swim things
dream’s acids and enzymes never digest. They have lived in my chest, the rattles 
and rings of door-slams circling now like little metallic fish in this cistern 
of liquid air.  

                      Cold cringes and sweats, sawtoothed silences, gut punches, must I  
go into the when and where? A backwash, my lungs’ sloshing recesses into this 
tidepool I widen and deepen with my heart’s hands.  

                                                                                     Tangles of deadheaded  
stems, strips of tough plastic lasting long after the last of the gifts 
they’ve wrapped,  

                               clicks of landline hang-ups like locks tumbling to seal off 
lives, strangled wishes that somehow keep gasping, I fill the bowl’s rising
welcome with more, each exhalation 

                                                              a vouchsafing. My mother’s finger 
waving my way to indict the kid she must see in a mirror behind me, 
snippets of my father’s full-color 

                                                       cartoon American vistas, crinkled-up
five-and-dime photo-booth pics of the Bar Mitzvah kid with hair swept 
John Lennon-like by a shoplifted comb, 

                                                                   the torn pages of my underground
life in another language with my other wife, a map’s squarish fragments 
come apart along creases of fold as I’ve tucked it five thousand times 
under the cardiac pipes— 

                                            all my dreams find too much to hold. 
I might sleep for another hour or two, beneath the unbreakable sky 
as it moves over the world’s ever-shattering news, front lines, plagues, 
drowning islands and all, if  

                                               the bowl’s clay will only set, let me 
wash my hands of it till light. 


Jed Myers lives in Seattle. He’s a psychiatrist with a therapy practice and teaches at the University of Washington. He’s author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press), and four chapbooks. His poems can be found in Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, RHINO, The Greensboro Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. With his companion, the writer Alina Rios, he edits the journal Bracken. 

© 2022, Jed Myers

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