Volume > Issue > Envy of the Empty Air

Envy of the Empty Air


By Susan Heyboer-O’Keefe | December 1984

Of what do they dream

— the white-robed monks?

while we

with half-shaped forms

from night’s pale palette



and sigh:

how sweeter than a monk’s dream

could sweet be?


and draw the covers tight

against the cold.


Dreams of our own

by day, by night,

work dark

their untold words

in our unwilling



We sleep a sleep that does not feed

within a night that does not hide;

and in the dark

the mirrored heart reflects upon itself.


Yet what do they dream?

— the cloistered monks

who have

no day like ours

to populate their



(…Dream praise and halleluiahs,

Dream six-winged seraphed love,

Dream chrisom child’s anthem

sung slow and clear and soft,

Dream saints’ all-haloed glory,

Dream Resurrection’s gift,

Dream dreams of life eternal

as long as they shall live?)

We sigh:

No sweeter than a monk’s dream

can sweet be


and draw the covers tight

against the cold.


But what if we’re wrong

and sleep-filled monks

dream of

the long dark space

between themselves and


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