posted Sep 29, 2015

I know mercy when I hear it: bolted
door, switched light, blade's hum
in the block as it dreams of rest
in a body. There is desire's blessed silence

waiting to announce itself
like the bruise your doctor finds
after seatbelts and airbags have carried
out their offices. Mercy is a stumble,

a stuck lock long enough for you to think
half a minute on what it is you're doing
those nights you feel the limits
of what you are allowed to call your own.

It is a burden only briefly, the rocks
that collect above your head but do not
fall, their mineral whisper, a rasp
and slip that keeps you from sleep.

Hilary Vaughn Dobel is the translator of Nine Coins/Nueve monedas by Carlos Pintado (Akashic Books, 2015), winner of the 2014 Octavio Paz Prize, and The Clouds (Open Letter Books, forthcoming). She is also the author of two poetry manuscripts, Hot Cognition (finalist, Brittingham Prize) and He Imagined Himself Laughing (finalist, Colorado Prize for Poetry). She holds an MFA in poetry and literary translation from Columbia University and is the recipient of fellowships from Columbia and the University of Chicago. She lives in Boston and at hilaryvdobel.wordpress.com.

We’ve published two more poems by Dobel: “Prayer for Things Bent Askew” and “How to Use a Book of Hours.”