“The Sleep of Prophets” by Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes


The silent prophetess sleeps well at night,
for the pleasures of knowing are a kind
of peace. While one is bleeding bloody,
and an unfurled crowd turns into
a stream of blood, empty shells,
the graffiti of disaster, the plague
of bouquets and solemn regrets,
the prophetess is prepared for sorrow.
She has wept loudly in her cloister,
her fingers pulling at her unruly hair,
her face purged of all paint.
She is, she says to the burning city,
like a woman in love with an
unreachable heart. She carries
the sweetness of her pain deep,
and her body surrenders even as
it sorrows; so each night she
lays her head down, she sleeps
the deep untroubled sleep of knowing.

from Rattle #78, Winter 2022


Kwame Dawes: “There seems to be a connection between being a consumer of music, literature, and so forth, and being a creator of it. For me, those two things seem to coincide. The mindset of the writer I can trace back to the mindset of wanting to control the narrative of my life, which never otherwise felt like something I could control.” (web)

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