Sleeping Through It

by Jeffrey Thomson

When the tree came down
across the fence in the night
and blustered its barky limbs
across the lawn, missing
our bed and room by inches,
I heard only the mute swan
of my own sleep. When
traffic spun past weaving
its dangerous cloth of taillights
and the stoplight on the corner
flashed its amber Morse,
I was listening to the unending
echoes of rocks in the canyon
of quiet. When the skunk
ambled in and the night
smelled of burned rubber
and oilfires, I was carefully
unaware of the tiny openings
of the stars. When nightjars
sang their minor key lament,
like the low smoky hush
of blues in the dark, when
planes blinked across
an upturned bowl named
the sky, when happiness
and sorrow lacked their own
names, I was memorizing
the language of nothing.
When I was compelled to attend
the convening of the committee
on night’s evanescence, I was hard
at work adjusting the machinery
of silence. When the muster
of names was shouted out,
when my presence was
required, and the flowers
of the apple orchard blossom
ed into moths made of white
ness itself, like the ash
of bodies burned on ghats
above night’s holy river,
I slept as we each sleep,
inside the husk of comfort
and at the mercy of all.