Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Murdered Sleep

So here's the thing. It creeps up on you
accumulates, so
you're not even aware of when you cross the line from just tired into dangerously exhausted
from a state where a few good nights (if you should ever get them)
will see you right, to
a state of living underwater
moving through time and space like a dream made of molasses
thick and heavy and pellucid
colours brighter, noises harsher
than they should be
every last nerve attuned to the necessity for wakefulness
every last cell forgetting how to sleep
how to relinquish consciousness to the dark
because the dragging-back-from-the-deep is too painful
too hard to do
over and over and over and

the dog is barking again. it's 3am
he's disturbed by the shadows of half-seen cats in the gibbous moonlight
it's almost a given, at this season. he
is unsettled by the weather, the movement of snakes and possums and night-time things
shushing him a nightly task. before
he wakes the toddler, oh
but she's woken. it's too late
her second nursing of the night begins
rocking on the green leather chair in her quiet room
humming without tune as she feeds, her
face calm, her eyes closed.

a return to bed, with a 5-year-old for company
a bad dream deposited her there just on the midnight hour
where she sighs and snuggles and kicks
and spreads herself across the bed, star-shaped, like
some importunate plant.

a return to bed, yes. but sleep is harder. it is hot
none of the other creatures of this household are peacefully sleeping, all
are tossing, turning, half-crying out
and so you lie. awaiting the next need, lying wakeful
body buzzing with adrenalin and fatigue, and
willing sleep to come

and you're reminded of one of your children's books
about a toy elephant who cannot get to sleep
and like Harry, you wonder
what if sleep never comes at all?

and when it does, it's shallow
dream-ridden, twitchy, easily rousable
no peacefulness in this bed

and then it's dawn, and the toddler wakes
and the day is afoot


  1. Great poem Kathy. It took me back to those days and made me tired as hell. I hope you get some decent sleep soon. (You are amazing - your Nanowrimo effort has been monumental. In awe.)

  2. Ditto. In awe of your Nanowrimo efforts on top of the constant interrupted sleep (and indeed the fact that you continually cope with 3 kids on minimal sleep - just as much of a feat as the novel!)

  3. I hear you! Great minds think alike when it comes to subjects today :)