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After Reading “The Sleepers”

ISSUE:  Spring 2005

I am amazed, there is nothing you can do for me, I am content.
I see my mother and father, the night pervades them and enfolds them
Everything I’ve said about them, I take back, and yet I still maintain what I have said.
I go with my friend to the old country, we knock on the door of the house.
The old man comes to the door carrying a book of poems.
That night we sleep; we have so much forgiveness of all those who sleep:
The corporate criminal sleeps in his cell,
Our dim-witted president, out of touch with reality, sleeps,
The marine with one leg sleeps,
The Iraqi whose house was destroyed sleeps in a room elsewhere with fifty others,
The frightened ones afraid that a terrorist will hit Chicago are asleep,
The defeated candidate sleeps, his wife is relieved.
The boy with ADD sleeps, the three-year-old girl sleeps with her arm around
        her dolls,
The homeless sleep covered by cardboard,
The abused wife in the shelter hurries to the bathroom to examine her eye,
She is worried about her children, she hurries back, they are crying.
The untenured woman professor who drives so many hours a day on the
        freeway sleeps,
The stammerer who is afraid to stand up before a crowd sleeps, relieved he doesn’t
        have to speak.
The vicious sodomite in the State Prison sleeps,
The retired lawyer and his wife sleep in their Florida house,
The husband and wife sleep, their faces pressed into a pillow,
Each is grateful to the other, the small houses inside their bodies remain lit all night.
I swear they are all beautiful. The teacher smiles at the student and the student
        smiles at the teacher.
They’ve enjoyed reading Hawthorne together. 
I too pass from the day. I slip into a grave for a moment with my father.
As for you, reader, I stay away from you for a while, but I return to you again
        and love you,
I will duly pass this day, oh mother, and duly return to you


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