Channel: Poetry | The Guardian
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Before Dawn


By Penelope Shuttle

I used to wake early, and weep.
Now I wake just as early,
calm as a cloud
in the moony sky outside.
Even thinking about unpaid bills
doesn't make me weep,
though I used to weep and weep.

4.30 a.m. No way of getting back
to sleep so I listen in
to the silence of a world dark and at rest.
I know other women
wider-awake than me.
I hear the silence beyond their weeping,
streetlamps outside their windows
won't blank out for hours and hours yet.

I used to wake early, etc …
Now I let my old friend Sleep
go his own sweet way,
listen to whoever is wide-awake in me,
running the flats of her hands
over the rough walls of the world,
looking for what?
A way in? A way out?
You tell me.

• From Unsent: New & Selected Poems 1980-2012 by Penelope Shuttle (Bloodaxe, £12). To order a copy for £9.60 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846 or go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop

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