Adrienne Rich

White Night

Light at a window.  Someone up
at this snail-still hour.
We who work this way have often worked
in solitude.  I’ve had to guess at her
sewing her skin together as I sew mine
with a different 

Dawn after dawn, this neighbor
burns  like a candle
dragging her bedspread through the dark house
to her dark bed
her head
full of runes, syllables, refrains,
this accurate dreamer

sleepwalks the kitchen
like a white moth,
an elephant, a guilt.
Somebody tried to put her to rest under an afghan
knitted with wools the color of grass and blood

but she has risen.  Her lamplight
licks at the icy panes
and melts into the dawn.
They will never prevent her
who sleep the stone sleep of the past,
the sleep of the drugged.
One crystal second, I flash

an eye across the cold 
unwrapping of light between us
into her darkness-lancing eye
—that’s all.  Dawn is the test, the agony
but we were meant to see it:
After this, we may sleep, my sister,
while the flames rise higher and higher, we can sleep.

spoken = Karen Marek