"Sleepsong", 31 May 2017

I sat in the dining room facing a window I could not see. The window, I knew, was just through that wall in my childhood bedroom. I knew it was cracked open just a hand, and drizzle flurried through the old metallic screen, falling unnoticed on my sleeping brother.

Were there no wall, I could easily see him from my chair. A blob (now bigger than me) beneath the covers. Tomorrow, I would see him no more—not for a very long time. 

There are levels of willpower in a man, and the body responds with levels of exhaustion. He was going to his final year of grad school, the last barrier between him and the raw ocean of adulthood. It was his final burst of willpower, after which he need only the energy for forty more years of work, love, and adventure. Where he would find it all, I did not know. 

I, on the other hand, sat alone in the dining room, two levels of exhaustion from the very bottom. Down there lie the possibility of another seizure, a level of exhaustion I always kept in mind. Just one below, and I would have no energy for anything besides making it to a bed. But here I sat, perched victorious on these layers of exhaustion, with the energy for one defiant act. A poem.

The last line, pictured in this entry's artwork, came to me first. And then my meditations on sleep emerged as imagery. A man waiting to fall asleep? The fountain awaiting water. Or is he curled up like an ear? 

At the gentle blow of dull confusion,

I smile and shape me like a lover's ear.

No words have I

Louder than inspiration's whisper. 

 

For sleep is nothing to be forced. It meets us halfway. Some things are unknown until they happen. Sometimes, you must let go.