John Morgan
The Sleepwalker's Husband

Harleys crisscrossing the bedroom
before breakfast—“What’s that noise?”
she yells in panic, dashing out
to the hall, and he thinks, Some flash
flood you barely woke out of sent
you to check on the babies our
grown up kids used to be.

Roaming the house she grew up in,
she spooked the stolid sleepers
whose furious shaking left bruises.
But some night strollers never wake, so
he’s read, being hacked to a deeper slumber
by elders who brand them as witches.

“Must be the cat,” she says,
returning groggy to sleep. Lost in these
deltas of reason, he rides the trampoline
mattress which archives their mores,
as a farmer’s first take on the weather
garners metaphors cached in the clouds.

And he’s heard her laugh to
the shadows at murmured jokes so private
he peered through a keyhole on vapor
where the primitive life of the mind
sends out aerial shoots and the ghosts
of the heart reassemble to be bled.

Ballad of the Three-Legged Cat

Under the comforter, peering out
like a thought that leaps with
dilated eyes from windowsill to branch
or crutch, and settles like a double star, hovering
over the jagged marriage of her scar.

You’d like to comfort her, speak
incantations from a book of
hopeful sermons and evoke,
as formidable and clear-cut as that
magpie on the porch, an orange

ur-cat who might temper with her song
this three-legged cat.
But now she’s backing off
into the jazzy fissure of her
wound, her beauty undisturbed.

The sleep is in her and she sees
its structure like a catafalque
and knows with her more than human
sense of smell the world
she purred to wishes her farewell.

Ashes of convalescence fall
over her bandaged night, a drifting
meditation on what it means to stalk, to
flee, to pounce, to nose those sweet
half-eaten road-kill voles.

From a textbook on the tectonics
of growth and unemployment
the questions surge into a mantle
of unremembered days, their lava
like salt tuna on her tongue.

Until that single offset rear left leg
shifts under her, gives center to her wobble,
and she hobbles up the stairs, sniffing
her puzzled sister who hisses
circumspectly as she passes.

You who have only two good legs,
nerve yourself against fear,
and lubricate your heart with prayer,
but not too much, as you
limp toward saintliness, a stiff
but holy, blind, devotional machine.