Still dawn. She perches, angled in the chair–

Chin sharp in sleep, joints stark through soft-worn clothes,

Her eyelids tense, ridged even in repose,

One brittle wrist protruding through her hair.

My shadow bars her. I would block that care

That crumples, wrests her limbs in broken pose:

Her body, hated, dies. Her longing grows,

Till soul drifts out through eyes thinned with despair.


I’ve guarded her a week. She doesn’t move.

My shadow’s stiff with watching. She first came

For breath; now breathing lengthens, rasps, in sleep.

What secret touch from me might wake her, prove

There’s substance still in wanting, that her name

Is life’s pure thread, spun by her soul to keep?


*Previously published in Kaleidoscope, 1998-99.


Contributor Notes: Adele Gardner’s first poetry collection, Dreaming of Days in Astophel, is available from Sam’s Dot Publishing (, keyword search “Gardner” or “Astophel” to go right to it). She has had poems appear in American Arts QuarterlyThe Cape RockBibliophilosThe City PrimevalBellowing ArkZ MiscellaneousStatus Hat, and more. Much of this occurred under her previous byline, Lyn C. A. Gardner. You can find out more about Adele by visiting her website,