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Sleepers in Jaipur, by Jane Kenyon

May 26, 1996

A mango moon climbs the dark

blue sky. In the gutters of a market

a white, untethered cow browses

the day's leavings--wilted greens,

banana peels, split rice,

a broken basket.

The sleepers, oh, so many sleepers. . . .

They lie on rush mats in their hot

stick hut. The man and woman

want to love wildly, uproariously;

instead, they are quiet and efficient

in the dark. Bangles ring

as his mother stirs in her sleep.

Who can say what will come of

the quickening and slowing

of their breaths on each other's

necks, of their deep shudders?

Another sleeper, a gift of God,

ribs and shoulders to be clothed

in flesh. . . .

In the dusty garden the water

she carried from the well in a jug

balanced on her black hair

stares back at the moon

from its cool terra-cotta urn.

From "Otherwise: New & Selected Poems" by Jane Kenyon (Graywolf Press: $23.95; 230 pp.).

Copyright 1996 Reprinted by permission.

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