Waiting Fifteen Years to Sleep With You

After Yu Xiuhua 

To sleep or to be reawakened. 

One is secret, the other bathed in morning glories. 

In the darkness, nobody looks at skin. They have to touch. 

To stroke the silence together.  Like planting a flower with both hands. 

To know you in the Biblical way. Instead 

of the way of encyclopedias. The way of underlined passages in emails. 

I have been misled by language. Linking together letters. Thinking

I could know you in longing. Torturing forests full of deer

with poems. But the skin remains, an unanswered love letter.

The body half knowable

or half unknown. 

Which is why I have waited 

all these years to sleep with you. 

All over America, people lie to each other. But I 

open all of my mouths. Tell all of my secrets. 

When you open the hotel door at last, I know

how to break a sound barrier, 

close my eyes, and remember my first prayer,

falling into the grass. I listen 

for the sound of something green 

ready to catch my knees,

and underneath that 

the hard memory of stone.


Tresha Faye Haefner’s poetry appears, or is forthcoming in several journals and magazines, most notably Blood Lotus, Blue Mesa Review, The Cincinnati Review, Five South, Hunger Mountain, Mid-America Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, Radar, Rattle, Tinderbox, and Up the Staircase Quarterly. Her work has garnered several accolades, including the 2011 Robert and Adele Schiff Poetry Prize, and a 2012, 2020, and 2021 nomination for a Pushcart. Her first manuscript, “Pleasures of the Bear,” was a finalist for prizes from both Moon City Press and Glass Lyre Press. It has been released by Pine Row Press under the new title When the Moon Had Antlers. Find her at thepoetrysalon.com.