Mary Holland/ poem: Sleeping between the Lines

This morning I was dreaming a poem
when my alarm clock burst in like
Coleridge’s Khan-killing knocker.  
It rang and left and rang 
again in ten-minute intervals, 
a gang of snotty kids, with the 
useless persistence of a 
vacuum cleaner salesman.

By seventh minute I was back in, 
this soft precise thing so thick it
trailed like paint behind my bootsoles 
as I traipsed through three deep minutes, until
the kids came back again, 
hawking hard bundles of 
bleak plastic, weak hoses. 
In this way an almost-hour passed.

 Each time I woke I stared 
ahead at the flat broad thing 
of my husband’s back, 
which did not flinch, which 
does not move in or out of such 
thick blue, of such soft saffron.


Mary K. Holland is Professor of English at SUNY New Paltz, where she teaches contemporary literature and theory. She is the author of two monographs on contemporary literature (Bloomsbury 2013 and 2020) and co-editor of a teaching volume (MLA 2019). Currently, she is co-editing two anthologies about bringing #MeToo to bear on literary critical practice and pedagogy, designing new courses on contemporary women’s writing, reading apocalyptic fiction somewhat obsessively, and dreaming now and then about Zoom teaching amid a zombie apocalypse. 

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