And all at length are gathered in.
–LOUISE BOGAN

By the time I came around to feeling pain
and woke up, moonlight
flooded the room. My arm lay paralyzed,
propped up like an old anchor under
your back. You were in a dream,
you said later, where you’d arrived
early for the dance. But after
a moment’s anxiety you were okay
because it was really a sidewalk
sale, and the shoes you were wearing,
or not wearing, were fine for that.

*

“Help me,” I said. And tried to hoist
my arm. But it just lay there, aching,
unable to rise on its own. Even after
you said, “What is it? What’s wrong?”
it stayed put — deaf, unmoved
by any expression of fear or amazement.
We shouted at it, and grew afraid
when it didn’t answer. “It’s gone to sleep,”
I said, and hearing those words
knew how absurd this was. But
I couldn’t laugh. Somehow,
between the two of us, we managed
to raise it. This can’t be my arm
is what I kept thinking as
we thumped it, squeezed it, and
prodded it back to life. Shook it
until that stinging went away.

We said a few words to each other.
I don’t remember what. Whatever
reassuring things people
who love each other say to each other
given the hour and such odd
circumstance. I do remember
you remarked how it was light
enough in the room that you could see
circles under my eyes.
You said I needed more regular sleep,
and I agreed. Each of us went
to the bathroom, and climbed back into bed
on our respective sides.
Pulled the covers up. “Good night,”
you said, for the second time that night.
And fell asleep. Maybe
into that same dream, or else another.

*

I lay until daybreak, holding
both arms fast across my chest.
Working my fingers now and then.
While my thoughts kept circling
around and around, but always going back
where they’d started from.
That one inescapable fact: even while
we undertake this trip,
there’s another, far more bizarre,
we still have to make.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Raymond Carver's poem Circulation

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