In This Country
Sleep is passed down from father to son. The poor
cannot afford it, though the nights are long. Museums
dominate the town. There are no clocks. The hours are rung
by the faint, inaccurate bells of the cathedral.
There are people here who walk all night. To extend
the land they reinvented distance. It took them years
to forget the wheel. At dawn, mist rises from the small canals
to hide the ships as they load at the harbor.
The principal export of this place is longing. Wrapped
in rose-leaves rolled like tiny cigars it is packed
unlabeled in camphorwood boxes. The language is simple,
written in an alphabet of a single letter. Context
is everything. Books vary only in length. Still,
the libraries are full of the saddest stories imaginable.
Karen Drayne received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, an MFA and MIS from the University of Maryland, and was a Thouron Scholar at Cambridge University. She has had poetry published in The Boston Review, The New Republic, and elsewhere. She lives in Maryland with her two sons, and works, of all places, at the Department of Justice.
Copyright ©2002 Karen Drayne