Nocturne by Caitlin Roach

In the sick dream a wan globe’s dull light pries

through a slit at the edge of the curtain

queering the cruelness of the world you exist as

the square root of while I rehearse

the performance of mourning wherein

the other heart inside me stills and we

are left to rot. As those threats crest there

still, you, little comma, hang

paused in your damp sack I grow like a shadow,

quieting. I search for you in the stillness, percussing

no longer, turning my bowed edges over

and over as a tide laps outside at the cliff’s

stiff bounds, dulling them to nubs whose

shallow grooves shadow their grit

skins like veins, sunburst, bluing

beneath each yours and mine, growing fat

with blood, while my husband sleeps sated

in his clarity, heaving through the calm dark

he dreams of no such worries through.

What must it feel like to not sense a coming

severance like this one. Beyond each edge

of your existence I’ve ached, devoted as the man

who with the bones of four thousand monks built

arches, altars, sacral chandeliers in a holy city

wracked by war, by empire, the barrier between

us in places just a single cell thick, meaning

maniacal. I tongue a seed fattening with spit

in my mouth and sense you a selfsame germ

broadening into more of what you already are:

paddles for hands that will split the webs

they’ve spun from, young tongue, lung

to yet know air, the tail you’ll soon fill out,

fused lids not yet half-mast to let

light in. It will be dark a long time

in the silo. Tell me the way the fig splits open

sounds like you arriving. I miss you

before you exist in this place

that does not deserve you.



Caitlin Roach’s poems appear or are forthcoming in jubilat, Narrative, Tin House, Best New Poets, Colorado Review, Columbia Journal, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. More can be found at