I say hunger and mean your hands bitten to boneseed,
bandaged with bedsheet and the night while two states over,
a mouth—ready soil—says your name. Next June’s lover
speaks the harvest: your rich, vowel-tender song

but for the neighbor. More hello than amen. Not yet
a whole book of psalms. Choose this. Not your bare room.
Your self-vacancies. Unlearn empire’s blackness:
night spun savage, space cast empty when really

a balm slicks the split between stars. Really
hipthick spirits moonwalk across the lake ice.
Maps to every heaven gauze the trees in velvet
between that greenbright spectacle of bud and juice

and dust—I’m saying there’s no such thing
as nothing. Try and try, you’ll never disappear.
I say hunger, mean hands you think empty
though everywhere, even the dark, heaves.

 “The Lonely Sleep Through Winter” copyright © by Kemi Alabi. This poem originally appeared in TriQuarterly Review, May 2021. Used with permission of the author.