The Way In to Sleep

In the afternoon I lay still and waited for sleep to approach, and it did, softly, but as soon as I recognised it it retreated. It happened several times, and then I had a mental image of myself sitting at a small wooden table placed against the wall in the corner of a room. There was a window nearby, through which came soft, cool light, as though it had just rained and the sky was still full of heavy clouds. The table had been painted many times with white enamel, one coat on top of the previous chipped coat, so that the paint had become three-dimensional. I was looking down at a china bowl of oatmeal, dotted with raisins. I had a strong feeling that I had actually lived in this scene, sat alone in that room, and I thought, this is the way in to sleep - and then the phone rang, and the spell was broken.

At night I tossed and struggled in the hot, sheet-tangled bed. Finally I slept, and dreamed I wrote a poem about trying to sleep. Reaching deep into my body, I pulled out chunks of sleep, jagged, dry, like loofah. I swallowed them again, as medicine. I raged against my body for making me struggle, for denying me sleep, for punishing me with sleep.

No comments: