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Trying to Sleep

    Brooklyn, 1944


As I was watching strips of light that moved
across the ceiling in the night,

as I was lying in my baby body in that giant bed,
uneasy feelings keeping me awake,

men were killing people in another place,
ordinary men, my father, learning war.

I didn't hear the crystal break or smell the human smoke,
or see the bodies hanging from the lampposts in the towns,

or feel the swarming armies smash,
or hear the airplanes scream and bomb.

All I saw were eerie strips of light that moved
across the ceiling in the much too quiet night.


Joyce Schmid

The Missouri Review

Summer 2017


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