Galway Kinnell, “Middle of the Night”


A telephone rings through the wall.
Nobody answers. Exactly how
the mouth shapes itself inside
saying the word “gold” is what sleep
would be like if one were happy.
So Kenny Hardman and George Sykes
called “Gaw-way-ay!” at the back
of the house. If I didn’t come out
they would call until nightfall,
like summer insects. Or like
the pay phone at the abandoned
filling station, which sometimes
rang, off and on, an entire day.
The final yawn before one sleeps
is the word “yes” said too many times,
too rapidly, to the darkness. On the landing
she turned and looked back. Something
of the sea turtle heavy with eggs,
looking back at the sea. The shocking dark
of her eyes blew alive in me
the affirmative fire. It would have hurt
to walk away, just as it would bewilder
a mouth making the last yawn to say “no.”

* * *

Oh, hi. Yes I took a bit of a vacation from the poem-posting but I decided to get back at it again. Right back where I left off, with Mr. Kinnell – how great is this poem?! Just so – just so – Galway-esque. Sublime and verbose and it hits you in all the right spots.

Ted Kooser, “Barn Owl”
Galway Kinnell, “Sex”

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