The Night


poem by Kathleen Braine


The night never starts when beds are bare.
the unfilled, mottled indentations of pillowtops

Smelling resplendent with shampoo and honeysuckle,
peppered with mascara scars, bleaching tattered

holes in the shiny fabric. My bedside that morning,
the white of my tank top stained coke and vodka.

I swallowed bile. The night won’t ever start if the bed
remains bare. Vacancy is appealing; vacancy is painless.

And when you have become something raw and aching,
maybe infinite sinews complex against the comforter.

Repetitive motions, frontal lobes of memory—
You never awake to blood underneath your fingernails.