The canopy is singing.
Sloths in sleep look like the dreaming
dead. Awake little different
under eyelashes stalwart as sapodillas,
fringed as palms. If to attain true mastery
ten thousand hours are required, yes.
If it is the habit of geniuses to nap,
yes. If the highly successful sleep fewer
than four hours per night, the inverse.
If expert survivalists sleep while
maintaining partial consciousness,
the reverse. But you sleep fitful in a bed
at the average, appointed intervals
and under it you keep only some number
of heaped up words. What is our dreaming
good for, it is reasonable to wonder,
in what are we expert? A certain fumbling
in the hours when we make good habitats
for other organisms which is where
dimly we first recognized each other.
Lisa Olstein is the author of three books of poetry: Radio Crackling, Radio Gone, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award; Lost Alphabet, a Library Journal best book of the year; and Little Stranger, a Lannan Literary Selection. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Nation, American Letters & Commentary, and New Voices. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Centrum. A member of the poetry faculty at the University of Texas at Austin, she also is the lyricist for Cold Satellite, a rock band fronted by acclaimed songwriter Jeffrey Foucault.