Well past midnight

“The house was quiet and the world was calm.” Wallace Stephens


Her book topples from her hand,
lands on the floor, open.

Outside, centuries of stars, muted
by street lamps, a crescent moon.

Cicadas shrill, go still, then shrill.
Slap of waves pebble the shore.

Salt brine, jasmine. Sweat on her skin.
Heft of her pillowed head.

Conversations circle her fishbowl
mind. Her dead father’s smile.

Sleep is the perfection
she seeks and yet—she dangles,

sheathed in sheets, cocooned
in the yes — of her breath.

Her pulsing hands,
her restless feet.

Around her eyes, muscles twitch
as layer by layer, her masks slip.

Beneath her ribs,
a sanctum.

warms her veins

the house, the world and she’s

swirled, phosphorescent
on the turning tide.

Laura Jan Shore


Laura Jan Shore teaches poetry in northern New South Wales. She won the Martha Richardson Poetry Prize (2012) and the FAW John Shaw Nielson Award (2009). Her poetry collections include Breathworks (Dangerously Poetic Press 2002), Water over Stone (Interactive Press 2011), Afterglow (Interactive Press 2020). Her work appears in literary journals across four continents.

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