When he said he loved her best asleep he meant
the grammar of her face—all its tenses,
the never-ending story—how it trailed off into
an ellipsis as she dozed, the thousand outpouring faces
all poured out of the bright container. And its spout —
the parted mouth, the little sleep-pout of the lips —
how it held fast to a few glistening drops
which he stole with the tip of his tongue without
waking her. But she heard him differently. Didn’t he
mean he preferred her silent, thoughtless, blank
as a blank page, so that he could write the story
of who she was, or ought to be? And didn’t he think
that loving her best asleep was like wishing her dead?
He said he didn’t think that’s what he said.
If you have any comments on this poem, Paul Hostovsky would be
pleased to hear them.