Last thing each night, go out for the moon.
Pull on old coat, shut garden gate.
Roll up old sleeves. Swing arms. Poor soul.
Think moonset. Moonrise. All running to schedule.
World black and white. Walk up the lane.
Last thing each night. Look up for the moon.
No sign but rain. Almost back home.
One more last quick. Glance up for the moon.Eyes stripped to the darkness. Can’t help but notice
Little desklamp glow. As from upstairs window.
Shoulder of a woman. There, that’s her.
Very old poor soul, maybe all but gone.
Last thing each night, flick on flick off.
Flick on flick off. Little hand torch halo.
There that’s her. Last thing each night,
Letting only the light of a white sleeve show.Sometimes the moon is more an upstairs window,
Curtains not quite drawn but lit within and lived in.
And sometimes the moon is less and
Sometimes she moves behind and sometimes she’s gone.
Sometimes it’s the moon. Sometimes it’s the rain.
Copyright © 2009 by Alice Oswald
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
An early work from the acclaimed poet of Memorial and Falling Awake, appearing for the first time in the United States.
A Sleepwalk on the Severn is a reflective, book-length poem in several registers, using dramatic dialogue. Ghostly, meditative, and characterized by Alice Oswald’s signature sensitivity to nature, the poem chronicles a night on the Severn Estuary as the moonrise travels through its five stages: new moon, half moon, full moon, no moon, and moon reborn.
“Superb…. Oswald conjures a universe that’s tricksy, tenebrous, provisional; in which ghosts and suicides rise up to argue with the living.”