The Hammock

Tom Sleigh

Your hand pushes me away
so that I float into the night,
then swing back, back from the nebulae
to our drifting conversation.

Among the race of star demons
what I saw out there—
golden chains, the spindle, sirens
chanting the music of the spheres—

blurs and streaks across star-flung
distances the chainlink fences
can’t fence out. Between
your hand and the hammock’s 

slow rocking the Void
expands, twisting threads
tautening, slackening, stretched
almost to breaking:

Do you feel that wobble
of earth’s axis, space
whirling past the icecapped pole?
The pines like judges stare down at us:

What should we recant, here,
tonight, as if we’d only just begun:
Off-center already, losing
equilibrium? The world-soul moving

through the strung-out stars moves
in threads that creak and moan,
breathes between your mouth and mine.
Pushing me away, you bring

me home, your attraction drawing
down the alchemical sign:
Love draws the soul
the way a magnet draws iron

Tom Sleigh is the author of Station Zed, Army Cats, and Space Walk (Kingsley Tufts Award). He has published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, VQR, APR, Poetry, Threepenny, and elsewhere.
Originally published:
April 1, 1998


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