All over the world people can’t sleep.
In different times zones they’re lying awake
Bodies still, minds trudging along like child laborers.
They worry about bills, they worry whether the shoes they just bought are really too small.
One’s husband’s died, her son left for college
and she doesn’t know how to program the VCR.
Another was beaten by her husband
One is planning a getaway
One holding stolen goods.
One’s on the plaid couch in ICU.
His daughter, it turned out
Actually does have a tumour
Even though the doctor said they’d do the MRI just to rule it out.
The woman on the other couch is snoring
which is strangely soothing
Evidence that people do sleep.
Some are lying on Charisma sheets
Some in hammocks
Some in jail
Some under bridges
One is at the north pole studying the impact of pollution
A man in Massachusetts thinks about a lover he once had in Dar es Salaam and the jasmine blossoms she strung along the shaft of a silver pin fastened in her hair at night.
Coincidentally, the lover, now in Rome, remembers looking out the window over the sink where she was washing dishes
And seeing him reading in the lawn chair
and she thought how perhaps for the first time she wasn’t lonely.
They’re all up.
some are too cold, some too hot.
some hungry, some in pain
Some are in hotels listening to people having sex in the next room
Some are crying
One the cat woke up and now she’s worried about the rash she noticed in the evening and wonders if her daughter who’s afraid to swim should be pushed
Some get up
Others stay in bed
They eat oreos, or drink wine
Or both
Many read
A few make Hallowe’en costumes
Some check their email
They try sleep tapes, hypnosis, drugs
They listen to their clocks tick
Smartly, as a woman in high heels
Those who can, cling to their mates
An ear pressed to those neighboring lungs
Like a stethoscope
hoping to catch a ride on the steady sleep breath of the other
to be carried like a seed on the body of one who is able.
Right now in Japan dawn is coming, and everyone who’s been up all night is relieved; they can stop trying
In Guatemala though the insomniacs are just getting started
and have the whole night ahead of them.
It’s like a wave at the baseball stadium,
hands around the world.
So here’s a prayer for the wakeful
The souls who can’t rest
as you lie with your eyes open
or closed
May something comfort you—a mockingbird, a breeze,
the smell of crushed mint
rain on the roof, Chopin’s Nocturnes
your child’s birth
a kiss, or even me—in my chilly kitchen with my coat on—thinking of you~ Ellen Bass, Mules of Love
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1 Response to Insomnia

  1. Hexe says:

    Interesting, reading this after a few sleepless nights, not a common problem for me. Lovely.

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