If you fall asleep now, all the mice will find your bed.
Drawn to the warm life in you, they’ll spend the night

power grooming your small patches of fur     nibbling
on your overgrown toenails.         You don’t want that.

It’s too close.                                     Stay awake, Vasya.
No one’s coming.                                      Breeze is cold.
Pull the covers over your ears.                 Not a woman.
                                              Just the shape of a woman.

Weight presses down on your duvet-lump body     push
the word go from your ghost-wrapped throat. She’ll go.

Not all ghosts mean trouble     —you could let her stay.
                       (To aid sleep, recite the Cyrillic alphabet.)

At the foot of your bed                                 something.
Close your window, keep water by.

That’s a frog’s croak.                           That’s your body.
                               That’s a night bird.

from Without Protection. Copyright © 2019 by Gala Mukomolova. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Coffee House Press.