“Letter XXXV” by Neil Aitken
I am tired of being vigilant. When darkness comes,
let me open the gates of the walled city, and let you in
to wander the streets laid in river stone and pearl
beneath an artificial sky woven from the weathered lines
of your poems, the hush song of dark hens in their nests,
the thread-worn wings of fire and lightning. I will break
all the dams that surround this place, that hold back
what remains of snow and sorrow, whatever the mountain
has failed to keep in its secret vaults, in its high places.
I will let loose the moon from her moorings, and give
all the stars back to the toothless night. I have grown old
in my waiting, like a snail I have carried my armored world
with me, a labyrinth of names turned upon a lathe of song.
Neil Aitken is the author of Babbage’s Dream (Sundress, 2017) and The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga, 2008), which received the Philip Levine Prize, as well as the poetry chapbook, Leviathan. His work has been published in American Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Dialogist, Ninth Letter, The Normal School, The Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals. A proud Kundiman fellow, he is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review, curator of Have Book Will Travel, and co-director of De-Canon: A Visibility Project. Visit him at www.neil-aitken.com .
Photo Credit: Staff