Rehearsal for Metamorphosis

The last time I slept in a king-sized bed, I could move,
and move, and still there was bed to hold me.
I did not fall out like I did in our second year—
how many times?—in our single bed,
our bodies learning our bodies, and learning to turn
without traveling. Turning without traveling,
then, and all the years since, all the things I
thought I would do, never thought I would do,
while holding her. Now I am single, again
sleeping in a king-sized bed with all this room,
but I do not move.
I sleep in one narrow tunnel
like a caterpillar in rehearsal.
We were beautiful like practice paper,
abandoned sheaves of brief brilliance.
In this world where beauty is currency,
even perennials die.
If we were to reverse the arrow of time—
I sleep like an arrow in a quiver. How lonely
was I long before I remembered, now
that I am what I always wished to be: my future
self come to tell me about myself now.
That arrow. This bed. How many more times will I sleep
in a quiver? Turning without traveling.
Then, who nocks me? Readies me? Whose fingers release
me? Who holds in position while I wing?


Su Smallen is the author of four collections of poetry. Honors for her work include nomination for the Pushcart Press Editors’ Book Award for Weight of Light and Minnesota Book Award Finalist for Buddha, Proof.