As when, after a hard, blank sleep, you wake
to the sound of water moving in the dark.
In a strange city: darkness, like water,
the sound of a serpent’s belly over leaves.
Or a serpent, from your belly, uncoiling
across your desk, over papers you’ve left
scattered, like fallen leaves, across the floor.
As in a dream, you cry out—or try to
—but when you try, the dark air of your mouth
becomes the dark air in the room, becomes
the room—a mouth open to scream, the sound
of no one hearing the sound you’ve made,
or will make. And the no one that hears you
is the one that wakes you, hard and blank, from sleep.
D.S. Waldman is a writer living on Kumeyaay land in San Diego, California, where he teaches creative writing. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Poetry Northwest, The Gettysburg Review, Copper Nickel, 32 Poems, New Letters, Diode, Poetry International, Los Angeles Review, and Sugar House Review. He holds a BA from Middlebury College and is currently enrolled in the MFA program at San Diego State University.