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Vol. 26, No. 1: Documentary Moment

Space Blanket

by Alan Shapiro

If in the crinkling thin as air metallic
blankets there are flashes signaling back
and forth over the little bodies wrapped
inside them sleeping on cage floor, gym floor,

floor of a defunct warehouse, don’t think of torch
fires, beacons of distress, or in the softness
any sign of soothing though they’re soft
as tissue, even softer yet untearable,

a just as tough as soft parental foil
no cold can cool; or heat can burn. Weightless,
bulkless, and even though the largest swath
can fold into the smallest sack, don’t think

efficiency or comfort, or even of
the children sleeping uncomfortably in builk
alone behind bars in detention centers;
instead, imagine you are sleeping in it too,

your body, you, like a spaceship pushing up
through thinning atmospheres of friction sealed
in a material that neither cools nor warms
what otherwise would only freeze or fry:

imagine it surviving, nothing else,
hurtling on through nowhere, holding nothing,
like foil wrapped in leftovers of foil
inside the unplugged fridge of outer space.


This poem appears in the Documentary Moment Issue (vol. 26, no. 1: Spring 2020).

Alan Shapiro‘s new collection of poetry, Against Translation, was published in 2019 by University of Chicago Press.

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