Posts Tagged ‘sleep’


(v.) to lie in bed for a long time, to lounge around

When the eyes decide
to stay closed.
Though it’s light.
Though dark tea
and blue skies await.
Though there’s music to hear
and books to read,
and sugar peas fresh on the vine,
still the eyes decide
to be closed is divine.
And then there’s the warmth
of the bed, the perfect
weight of soft sheets,
the way the blood
has transformed into honey
and the limbs now curl
so perfectly into the perfectly
sleep-drunk, ease-heavy body.
When there’s work and a host
of sparkling to-dos,
but all the eyes want
is to stay closed,
to sail on the sweet ship
of near-sleep just a few,
just a few more,
just a few …

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Before my eyes are open,
I reach across the bed
to find my mother’s arm
atop the comforter
still heavy with sleep.
I settle my fingers there
like a butterfly landing
on a flower the same color
as its wings. Grateful
for this simple proof
she is here, soft and breathing
beside me, I fall back asleep,
my hand still touching her.
Long after we wake,
I still feel it in my hand,
not her arm itself,
but the reaching.

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for my daughter

“Snuggle,” she said,
a two-syllable passport
to another world—
the world in which
she is more dream
than mask, more breath
than task, her softness
inviting my softness,
and I slipped beside
her dream-scented body
and curled myself
into her shape,
one arm draped
across her weight,
and matched my inhale
to her inhale, matched
my every exhale to hers
and listened as once again
sleep took her,
and she was not curious,
not smart, not funny,
not brave, but so deeply
herself, and how could I not
fall deeper in love,
a pilgrim in this realm
of sweet defenselessness,
the silken luff of our breaths
weaving around us
like a cocoon.

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Some Mornings

Before the eyes are open
but after the body wakes,
there is that gentle interlude
when the scent of the dream
lingers like lavender incense
and light enters the body
through the skin and there is
enough awareness to fall in love
with this moment but not enough
agency to stay in or to leave—
I imagine it’s what it’s like to be a bud,
to remain folded in on the darkling magic
until, like soft petals, the eyelids
can’t help but unfold
and the irises sip at the light
and half of the soul angles back
toward the dreamworld,
the other half opens toward life.

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Such tender choreography,
the way we fall asleep,
our bodies quiet beside each other,
my hand a bird inside the nest of your hand,
and then, when you turn to one side
my body, even in sleep, will turn to curl
with yours. And later, we are again like two stems,
like two wicks, like twin streams touching.
I don’t understand how it is
our bodies know to move, to curve,
to find each other in the dark. I only know
I am grateful for these night hours
when flesh is soft and full of dream
and trust is a sweet and blooming thing
and there is a beauty that no one else sees
as we turn again, turn again.

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The Call

Dawn, and the geese announce
their landing on the pond—
and though the reluctant body says sleep,
the heart rouses to attend their arrival.
So many awakenings seem to happen like this:
when I feel least ready, least willing, most averse,
something demands I rise—
something strident, insistent, wildly alive,
saying, Now! It’s time! You’re here.

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Oh to wake in the middle of the night
and not wish to be asleep. To not wish
for anything but what is, which is,
in this moment, being awake.
To let the mind wander
because that is what the mind is doing.
To let the heart clench around its losses
because that is what a heart does.
Being awake in the middle
of the night is teaching me
to be so gentle with myself, to be
with what is and do nothing about it.
To not turn on the light. To let the dark
be dark. To let what is awake be awake.
To let what aches ache. To feel the deep peace
of not trying to anything. To meet
the moment as it is, as inevitable as dawn,
as loyal, as changing as wind.

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            inspired by “La Berceuse” by Vincent van Gogh and a song by the same name by Kayleen Asbo, with a line from Paul Gaugin
There is, inside all of us,
all of us, all of us,
a child who longs
to be rocked, and rocked,
a soul child who longs
for the old sense of cradling,
a soul infant, fragile,
so green, so new,
who knows only to trust
that someone, someone,
peaceful and still,
someone with patience
and infinite calm,
with a quiet face
and sober eyes
will sit beside us
in heavy-lidded moments
when we glide defenseless
on dim shores of dreams,
yes, someone, someone,
will watch us, will watch,
will keep watch and will usher us
slowly to sleep,
to sleep, though we fight it,
oh shhhh, shhhhh.
Can you feel it, the rocking,
the rocking, the rocking,
can you feel it, the rocking,
that never stops?
Oh bless the hand,
the patient hand, 
oh bless the hand
that rocks.

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In Those Quiet Hours

For two weeks after he died,
I’d fall asleep exhausted
only to wake just past midnight.
Desperate, I’d claw at sleep,
frantic to catch it and clutch it,
but always it slipped my grasp
and I’d lie awake till morning.

My friend suggested
I reframe those sleepless hours
as a sacred time, an intimate,
personal quiet time. Not a problem.
Not something to be treated.
Not something to be feared.
That night, as I emerged from sleep,
dreams dripping from me like water,
I did not resist the waking.
Instead, eyes closed, heart open,
still lying in bed, I said,
I love you, Finn. I miss you, sweetheart.
And woke on the shore of morning.
Ever since, it happens just like this—
when I slip from sleep,
I tell my son I love him
and slide unknowingly
back into the tide of dreams.

How many hundreds of times
when he was young, did I go to him
when he cried out in the night?
I’d press my palms against his chest  
until his breath was a skiff for dreams.

Years later, though I can’t feel his hands,
though I don’t hear the lullaby of his breath,
somehow he arrives to comfort me.
And though I don’t hear him say
the words I’d always say to him,
I feel them float above me like a blanket,
warm in the cool night air—
Shhh. I’m here. It’s okay. I’m here.

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I wish you the peace of sleep,
your breath a canoe
that carries you
toward the next moment
without any need
for you to touch the oars.
How easily you arrive.

Oh, to trust the world like that—
trust you will be carried,
not just in sleep,
but in waking dreams,
trust no matter how high the waves,
the skiff of grace
has a seat for you.
And oh, to let go of the oars—
there is no steering
toward what comes next.

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