A poem by Sandy Longhorn:
Let the thunder clamor above and continue
after lightning has licked the heavy air.
This is not a haunting. I mean to be awake
and wide-eyed—to be both owl and field mouse
caught in strobes of light.
The clock pushes past midnight, then one,
then two, and I am counting backwards
into what is left as the bruises fade.
One man told me love was a transitive verb,
worrying me like a rosary bead to prove it.
Another man stood me in the middle of Nebraska
to prove the Permian seas once stretched
from Pittsburgh to Denver, home to creatures
we read about with our stone-caressing fingers
but could never know. The last man was a thief,
his voice a prayer to a god so exotic I bloodied
my knees falling down before them both.
This is a recounting. I mean to be accurate
and true—to be both diary and document
held open and up to the light.
Let the storm pass, dawn taming the landscape
outside my room, leaves and branches loosening
back into the shapes of trees.
When I’m exhausted and mentally busy, like I am right now, I like to find and read a poem I’ve never read before. It not only calms me down but gives me a chance to think differently about things, and then go out into the world again, as if emerging from some imaginary den—ready to try all over again. I found this poem in my anthology after a particularly stressful day working with middle-schoolers (and adults) at summer camp. I think tomorrow I’ll read the poem again before I take my last sip of coffee and head out into the still dark morning; the last three lines might need to be repeated.