Alison Harville

What We Wake To Is What We Fell Asleep To


We pass a cup back and forth,

burning the tips of our fingers.

It is filled with yesterday’s hopes.


We are all children

heavy with the future, too heavy

to run anymore so we turn our faces

from the bright sky. It is enough

to know that angels come in many grays,

like cement and last year’s sweaters,

we don’t need to see them flying overhead

tearing holes in the sky.


The sound is like the ocean

if someone tore a hole in the ocean,

which they might have. Who knows what’s

been done while we were busy making tea,

the bird bones of our shoulders splintering

as we brush against each other, falling

into the cups like lumps of sugar

or maybe salt.



From a Distance


Yesterday’s flags no longer wave.

Clouds hang dark and dampening.

What do I know about condensation…

My clothes stick to my skin as if soaked with guilt.


I eat a hot meal. I take a hot shower,

My skin turns the pink of sunset on snow.


In a dream little mechanical birds

sprang up out of my hands. I fed them

poetry, flung them to scatter in the winds,

to seek new targets with their sharp metal beaks.


What do I know about mechanics,

about metal, about wind…?

I suppose I know something

about the sustenance of poetry.

About how poems bleed out of you

on the darkest of days, and with that

start to pull you up even as you’re falling.


From a distance I watch

as the brush strokes become the painting,

counting the petals as they encircle the heart of seeds.