American Culture · American Literature · Classic · Collection · Contemporary · Excerpt · Passage · Poetry

Galway Kinnell

When the sun enters the room, he wakes and watches her.
Her hair lies loose, strewn across the pillow
as if it has been washed up, her lips are blubbed,
from the kissing, her profile is fierce,
like that of a figurehead seeing over
the rim of the world. She wakes.
They do not get up yet. It is not easy
to straighten out bodies that have been lying
all night in the same curve, like two paintbrushes
wintering in a coffee can of evaporated turpentine.
They hear the clangs of a church clock. Why only nine?
When they have been lying on this bed since before the earth began.

— Galway Kinnell, from “The Night,” Imperfect Thirst (Houghton Mifflin, 1994)

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