Night Prayer for Various Trades
Machinist in the pillow’s grip,
Be clumsy and be blind
And let the gears spin free, and turn
No metal in your mind.
Long, long may the actress lie
In slumber like a stone,
The helpless words that rise from sleep
Be no words but her own.
Laborer, drift through a dark
Remote from clay and lime.
O do not tunnel through the night
In unpaid overtime.
You out-of-work, walk into sleep.
It will not ask to see
Your proof of skill or strength or youth
And shows its movies free.
And may the streetcleaner float down
A spotless avenue.
Who red-eyed wake at morning break
All have enough to do.
Enough to do. Now let the day
Its own accountings keep.
But may our dreams keep other time
Throughout our sprawling sleep.
Copyright © 1994 by Naomi Replansky. “Night Prayer for Various Trades” originally appeared in The Dangerous World: New and Selected Poems, 1934-1994 (Another Chicago Press, 1994). Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.