A Poetry Sporadical of Repeating Forms

Circadian Lament, Sung to a Wakeful Baby

by Maryann Corbett

Go back to sleep. You’ve made a slight mistake
switching your days and nights around this way.
The time will come for nights you spend awake,

for cough and colic, ear- and stomach-ache.
Though now you babble charmingly and play
the infant hours away (a light mistake),

there will be bitter medicines to take
some night. Take love: its wide-eyed thrills one day,
its clammy sweats the next. Take nights awake,

your soul in shreds, your bank account at stake,
your eyelids propped with stale café au lait.
Searching the stars for some obscure mistake

when futures cloud and omens turn opaque
and panic makes you pace the floors and pray
There will be no escape from nights awake,

I warn you. And my wisdom doesn’t make
one whit of difference. Seize the night, you say
in coo and babble. Ah, well. My mistake.
Instruct me in the joys of nights awake.

Maryann Corbett is the author of two chapbooks, Dissonance (Scienter Press, 2009) and Gardening in a Time of War (Pudding House, 2007). She was a winner of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and a finalist for the Morton Marr prize. She lives in St. Paul and works for the Minnesota Legislature.


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