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Love Lies Sleeping

Written by: Elizabeth Bishop | Biography
 | Quotes (9) |
 Earliest morning, switching all the tracks
that cross the sky from cinder star to star,
 coupling the ends of streets 
 to trains of light.

now draw us into daylight in our beds;
and clear away what presses on the brain:
 put out the neon shapes 
 that float and swell and glare

down the gray avenue between the eyes
in pinks and yellows, letters and twitching signs.
 Hang-over moons, wane, wane!
 From the window I see

an immense city, carefully revealed,
made delicate by over-workmanship,
 detail upon detail,
 cornice upon facade,

reaching up so languidly up into
a weak white sky, it seems to waver there.
 (Where it has slowly grown
 in skies of water-glass

from fused beads of iron and copper crystals,
the little chemical "garden" in a jar
 trembles and stands again,
 pale blue, blue-green, and brick.)

The sparrows hurriedly begin their play.
Then, in the West, "Boom!" and a cloud of smoke.
 "Boom!" and the exploding ball
 of blossom blooms again.

(And all the employees who work in a plants 
where such a sound says "Danger," or once said "Death,"
 turn in their sleep and feel
 the short hairs bristling

on backs of necks.) The cloud of smoke moves off.
A shirt is taken of a threadlike clothes-line.
 Along the street below
 the water-wagon comes

throwing its hissing, snowy fan across
peelings and newspapers. The water dries
 light-dry, dark-wet, the pattern
 of the cool watermelon.

I hear the day-springs of the morning strike
from stony walls and halls and iron beds,
 scattered or grouped cascades, 
 alarms for the expected:

queer cupids of all persons getting up,
whose evening meal they will prepare all day,
 you will dine well
 on his heart, on his, and his,

so send them about your business affectionately,
dragging in the streets their unique loves.
 Scourge them with roses only,
 be light as helium,

for always to one, or several, morning comes
whose head has fallen over the edge of his bed,
 whose face is turned
 so that the image of

the city grows down into his open eyes
inverted and distorted. No. I mean
 distorted and revealed,
 if he sees it at all.



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