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Ellison 21 Julie Ellison Nightly At nine o'clock I lay me down without a prayer beside my son. Our breathing swells with having nothing left to do but postpone sleep as the fan slowly shakes its head and mylar kite tails ripple under its stare. Thoughts return for their sequels while our minds parade their half-done structures to the tune of freeway tides and the bisyllabic pitch of frogs. On the wall by our heads hang the nations. Africa and South America are suspended over us like Bosc pears in pink and green. "Why this new world map?" "Equal Area," "Equal Axis," "Equal Positions." The cartographer's elongated countries grant each fractured state its claim. The air slips under the world's paper folds, the nervous breeze of sensations, each mood wishing it were an earth and finding no representative body but the drifting justice of fatigue. The room is constellated with odd lights: shoes with phosphorescent appliques, a switchless night light triggered by the gloom, and, on the ceiling, stick-on moons and stars. Even our talk is phosphorescent. Phrases move between us like fish against pressure, all teeth and bulbs. In the rift of son and mother bodies black out but look for light to eat. ...


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