Sunday, December 27, 2009


We just drove more than 10 hours to get from South Jersey to Chapel Hill. It was very slow going, a trip full of restlessness, dirty restrooms and bad fried food. I am home, and am resting with a cat purring on my tummy. I should sleep. I am enticed by the heated mattress pad we just put on, and our Christmas gift of 800 thread count sheets. Despite the luxury that awaits, I put off sleeping. Each night I do the same, even with sickness or exhaustion. My husband inevitably drifts off within a couple minutes, leaving me alone listening to his soft breathing. I always wonder where he has gone, and how he has gotten there so quickly. I envy him. Sleeping for me is such a process, one I usually dread. I usually have to go to bed before I really feel ready (which would be somewhere around 4-6 a.m.) As I try to sleep my mind swells with thoughts and images and lists, I'm oversensitive to every light and sound, my body feels it's time to move, I always need to pee, and my new tinnitus has not helped the situation.

My relationship with sleep, however, is still better than my relationship with waking up in the morning. It is violent, grudging, drenched in dreams. This morning Gabe woke me up with a song, and said 'time to wake up'. To which I replied 'no, it's simply a time. what you're saying is arbitrary.' Or something grumpy-sleepy like that.

It takes me a long time to sleep. It takes me a long time to wake up. I'm hoping I make better friends with both of these things in the New Year. At least I'm comforted by some beautiful poetry on the theme. Go for it, Margaret Atwood:

Variations on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head.

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

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