The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 14 no. 2


D. Nurkse



In that hotel, the mirror was naked.
I had never seen such a wavering cloud.
I ran my fingers along the glass.
It burned me slightly.

I didn’t know who you are.
Just how to suffer, how to pass time
(by counting), and a few jokes
whose appeal was a forgotten punch line.

I poured you a cup of black wine.
It trembled. We could hear the trucks
roaring north and south—we were alone
in a huge city. August inched
sideways through the blinds.

I didn’t know twilight would be naked.
The bells would be naked. Not knowing
would be naked.

We are told, only the moment is real,
all that exists exists in the moment,
but who knew how to get there?
We tried door after door
along those elm-lined streets
and heard just chimes
in triple-locked apartments.

Then we found it. It is here.
Though we are fading
all our actions last forever,
even fumbling at a button—

not in these words
but in the night sky hidden
at the center of the last period.