what is it

I haven’t really slept in two days. It’s cool outside–late-October brisk–but in my bedroom it’s inexplicably stifling. There are no comfortable positions. My back hurts. My head hurts. My legs hurt. The cats howl intermittently. (I’m beginning to suspect they don’t like the new food I bought them.) I start reading my email, which you shouldn’t do if you can’t sleep. The light from cell phones is blue, they say, though I can’t see it myself, and blue light encourages your brain to stay awake for reasons that aren’t clear to me. Still I can’t stop bringing the phone into the bedroom. Still I can’t stop reading the things I shouldn’t be reading, over and over. Still I can’t stop composing answers, on the screen, in my head, out loud even, though when I realize that’s happening I button my lip. But who am I trying to impress? What does it matter if I talk to myself? It’s a soliloquy, let’s call it that. It furthers the narrative, contributes to character development. My character could use development. I think incessantly, but has it made any difference? I think I’m probably saying this out loud. I think, in my heart of hearts, it’s in iambic pentameter. I think, deep in my subconscious, I’m wearing a crown and carrying a sword. The man I love and the man I hate are both in disguise and I’m not sure which is which. I describe my confusion to the audience. I can’t see, the stage lights are in my eyes. Or is it sunrise. Or is it the flash I spent my childhood awaiting, the one that would mean the end of the world, the one I still see in dreams sometimes, throwback dreams with mushroom clouds in black and white. What it’s like to not sleep all night. What it’s like to want to answer someone who isn’t there. Sometimes it’s stream of consciousness and sometimes it’s something else, a dream, a story, a conversation. I’ve never cared what anyone called it. I don’t usually have clear names for things, doing it seems more important than naming it, that’s all. But yes, tonight it’s a stream, a deep cold one, I wish it would carry me away, I wish I could float in it in a manner that took the weight off my hips and allowed my neck to rest at a comfortable angle, I wish I hadn’t read anything you wrote, I wish I was so young I hadn’t had my first nightmare and sleep was just what happened to you when you lay down and there were just a few words, just enough for your daily needs, not enough to force any difficult choices or cause any confusion, milk, mama, bed, light, bye.

another planet’s sun
in the morning
a little bit taller

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4 thoughts on “what is it

  1. susandiri says:

    wow, i wish you sleep–maybe you accomplished it with your closing tribute to early childhood. but i recognize the tendency, as u know, & reading is tempting, or writing, or digital channels that contain something interesting, whoah. good luck, sleeper!

  2. I have had many nights and days like this, but not lately, when me days and nights string together with only small breaks or none at all. I remember how it separated me from the world, and I walked around imprisoned in the walls of my head and whatever was the focus of my thoughts. I wish I knew how I was able to channel myself away from that, maybe I just got older and gained a little perspective. But this is exactly how I felt when I was in the middle of it.

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