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Vigilance
by Sarah Lindsay

 

Beware deep rivers.

Rocks that fit the hand.

Well-dressed waiters who don’t meet your eyes.

Cities with underfunded zoos.

 

Sleep is a calculated risk.

Like a picnic with wine that lasts all afternoon.

The first radar disks looked only in one direction.

Keep your loved ones from knowing.

 

Tell your pillow that realism

only looks like fear. Beware your pillow.

It knows too much. Keep your war

between 42 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

If you are a bear, don’t climb the fence

of an air base at dusk. If you are on guard,

fire at the shadow but recognize

that it might be a bear. Are you classified?

 

Are you prepared? “This is only a test,”

the radio announcer says. Which is what

he would say if someone held him at gunpoint.

Keep your loved ones from knowing.

 

The price of eternal vigilance

is knowing the many hours between 3 and 4 a.m.,

is blood-pressure pills, is a missile launch triggered

by a flight of swans or moonrise over Norway.

 

Sarah Lindsay

 

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