The Miles Before Sleep by Mary Alexandra Agner

The Miles Before Sleep

inspired by the title of a Martin Willitts Jr. poem

Country singers say they go by truck wheels,
rubber tumbling, lost in Patsy Cline,
and poets, with debated metaphor, and rhyme,
get lost in snow and near forget their horse.
The rest of us walk crosswalks, train tracks, asphalt
between the lot and daycare, food store, work.
Unlike the lyrics, sneakers leave no footprint,
except on melting days we’d just as soon forget,
indeed all roads are laid with just that goal:
to go on without notice of the ones
who go on them, whose tread, tires or tired
feet the only thing which keeps the count:
miles to go before I sleep
recorded one by one in bones, in cracks,
invisible—and numberless as breath.

by Mary Alexandra Agner.

Editor’s note: This poem’s use of image and metaphor are not the only technical delicacies—there is the nod to two different poets, and the perfect use of rhyme in the third line (to emphasize the line’s meaning to the reader).

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