Sleeping in the Ruined Mill
Sleeping in the ruined mill,
night-wind slipping through windows
blinded years ago by fire,
I dream that you arrive with food
in a plastic cooler and unroll
a sleeping bag and drift off
and dream that I arrive with wine
in a paper bag and uncork it
and pour it on your shining body.
You awaken from that dream but still
in my dream lean over and slap me
awake. The wind has died. Mice creak
in rubble of brick and charred timber.
Alone with the dapple of stars,
I rub the cheek you slapped but
feel nothing. A red and white
plastic cooler rests beside me.
Maybe I brought it here myself.
I pour wine in a paper cup
to rinse away the sleep-taste.
A few yards away the mill-race
snores along at terrible speed.
Even to dip a hand in it
means an abrupt and icy death.
I’m not fool enough to believe
you dropped by and left this cooler.
The wine bottle is almost full.
I haven’t poured it on anyone,
I swear. Something larger than mice
or rats moves in the rubble:
someone as homeless as I feel
at this moment, the last tatter
of dream-life snagged on broken brick
and a shadow overlapping mine
in a snarl of useless gestures.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, NH (USA). His poetry, criticism, and fiction have appeared in many journals, and his most recent book is June Snow Dance (2012).