34 Psaltery & Lyre: Sarah Dunster, “Herald”




The trump sounded, and I woke from dreams
of my waking tasks (noisy impression
of trampoline springs, raw joy, and porcelain
clattering in the sink) what is this thing—

this voice, troubling the midnight silence?
A drum, a slice in the dark of brass and fiddle;
of wolves baying, a wild rumble of mezzo—
skilled, like a skin-diver breaking the surface.

In the stillness, in the haze, the peace
of serotonin, here I lie.  I quake.
It may be the end. I may wake
and find it’s the beginning, and feel the beat

of his chest, where he lies in dread
of a tinny electronic herald that will draw him
from clinging sheets. That will rouse him limb
by limb.  I lie heavily, and think ahead

to morning—I should rise… I should see—
the darkness presses me.  It’s warm and thick,
a gentle pillow on my face bringing sick,
terrible knowledge and that grey uncertainty

of the world at an end—how it could come
when nobody realizes nobody hears,
(a thought that makes the yellow hairs
stand up on my knuckles) and think, some

people might just wake and find the sun
blazing in the sky a different color,
shocked dead. Wondering what another
thousand will bring. That it should come

at night, in the mellow lumbering
of a smooth-tongued bassoon. My sleeping lips
strain with the words of prayer: may it
be a quick, a painless passing.


Sarah Dunster is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. Her poems have been published in Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought, Segullah Magazine, and Victorian Violet Press. Her short fiction piece, Back North, is featured in Segullah’s Fall 2011 issue. Her first novel, Lightning Tree, was published in April 2012.


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