How to Use a Book of Hours

posted Sep 29, 2015

Recite the time as it flies
from you, cold and definite
as the atom's chime
and never coming back. Say,
Vespers, compline, aspirin.
Say, Sunset fled the room
and left the smell of oranges.

These are the dark watches
of the night, but you can
only listen. You revel
in uncertainty as you did
your adolescent sick days.
Pray for the lung of your house
its somnolent music. Soul
bent at the corners, soul
clouded with silt, you are
crawling up the sides
of your container. Begin.

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

We’ve published two more poems by Dobel: “Prayer for Things Bent Askew” and “Tuesday.”