A Moment Without

small me / sweating after nightmares.”
–Michael Ondaatje

If there hadn’t been
a moment without
you,

I would never have known
thirst.

My lips are dry as dust.
My tongue is abrasive, unyielding,
each swallow forgetting liquid,
each pocket of cheek preparing
to crumble as ash.

If there hadn’t been
a moment without
you,

I would be unfamiliar
with the anxiety of ending.
Ignorance would guide me
into prayer for
gentle conclusions, naivete
would greet me
each dawn.

If there is another
moment without
you,

I will sweat through
the waking nightmare
squeezing life from
my pores —

I will struggle again
to believe hope
will quench me.

Detroit International Airport, April 1997.

[For Julie]

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