A doze is a light sleep
the mind dips into,
then wakes from, achingly,
into little Iliads,
with the leaves as warriors,
the arrows flickering,
the omen birds passing.

They could fight all day.
They could die quickly,
a single thrust of the spear,
the light suddenly gone,
the body far from home,
splayed in the dust
for the feasting of birds and dogs.

The mind hobbles from sleep
like prayers, the old women
that come long after ruin;
approaching steps in the hall
rouse us to our feet
among the bending swans
of college afternoons.

—Prescott Evarts

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 13 Number 3, on page 34
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