Lance Larsen, a University of Houston graduate, has published two poetry collections: Erasable Walls (1998) and In All Their Animal Brilliance (2005). Individual poems have appeared in The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, New York Review of Books, TLS, Grand Street, and The Pushcart Prize 2005. A professor at BYU, he’ll spend winter 2005 in London as part of a study-abroad program.
Everything comes down to numbers but nothing
is finite, not me waking at 3:47 a.m.
and not fifty feet of power cord snaking out my window.
Can sleep be factored or does it dream
its own dark prime? Four days ago, Jacqui miscarried.
Last night, Guillermo from next door,
looped in power cord, knocked just before midnight.
Electricity cut, he said. He made a motion
across his throat. We borrow—one day.
It was a question but his mouth couldn’t find
a place for the question mark.
We pay, oh yes. He meant the three
Guatemalan workers he shared a one-bedroom with.
Their apartment identical to ours,
but reversed, as if one had dreamed the other.
We pay and we pay. I walk to the window,
which puts half a room between me
and Jacqui’s slow breathing, and two thirds
of a dirty moon flat on the parking lot.
Now the math is easy but untrue.
One parabola of electricity equals
three parking stalls equals five thousand drilling
cicadas. And the other end of the cord
twists through their sleep. Is the body an abacus
that tracks nights alone? Four mouths,
eight eyes flicking back and forth, one breath.
Men who baby the yards of the rich
and send grimy twenties home inside novelas.
Seven-watt Virgin, bathe me in blue
patience. Count lost heartbeats, clock radio.
I am waiting for 5:00 a.m. mariachi tunes
to leak from their room into my body, for mourning
and accordions to equal the last Thursday in June.