Michael Lee

And what does it mean
when you and your love sleep

in the same bed for the last time
and you lie awake not saying anything

because you know it,
and maybe if you never sleep

you will never wake,
and the birds won’t

sing and the sun won’t
know to rise and you won’t

ever be alone again, or at least
not any more alone than you are now.

And what does it mean
when you can feel her body

only a foot from your own,
but you are certain if you reached

out for her arm or cheek
you would not find anything

but the sheets, still warm,
and no matter how close she gets

to you now, she will always be out of reach,
and what does it mean when, finally,

you fall asleep, and both awaken
to a gunshot in the dark—

like a single string
in the instrument of night

had snapped—
and she crawls into your arms

for protection—but of course not the real kind,
because that bullet, if aimed at you,

would have gone through you both—
and what does it mean when you realize

that’s all love is, a small, and feeble shelter
from the inevitable?

From bullets and time,
from rain, and also drought, and

if the bullet were just a tool of grammar
in the language of the unspeakable,

would it not be a conjunction,
would it not be the word “and”

for doesn’t it connect us
to the only two worlds we know?