Before You Sleep

by Lisa Levin

When suddenly, rain was falling again. We knew to blow out all candles
and pray, and teach the children to put together their hands, 

the whole town in breathless darkness. The prince was ill once more
and little could be done to save him. He swallowed a bit of broth
today but couldn’t walk or hum. Our most beautiful girl was sent for
and she knelt by his side, quiet as a snowtail, reciting a verse to god.
It was a warm night with no wind. She loved him, the curve of his brow,
the way she loved her newborn, a kind of heaving sorrow

that sometimes woke her from the fields she dreamed of, fields
of red buckwheat, where she slept as a child, before she ever knew
her lips were the red of the flowers, what beauty held the power to do.

Lisa Levin has spent the last year composing poetry in cities around the world. She currently lives in Tokyo.

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