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J.M. Barnaby – Insomnia: A Retrospective

J.M. Barnaby
Insomnia:  A Retrospective

Sleep had never been good for me,
interrupting itself for anything
that might have seemed better:
A panic, an illness.
I was not afraid of sleep,
But of being awakened,
shivering, nauseated,
eyes thumped open
with every roaring pulse of blood.
I sagged through the months
that spat themselves before me,
all knuckles, knees,
dragging on worn carpet.
The dusk folded in on me
four hours after morning checked out.
If I had been a wild girl,
I could have learned to drink
pints of cider in a town where the wind
is wet, where that windy wetness
smacks the whole town gray;
I could have stumbled the streets
back home, fallen, blackened
in a stodgy bed.
That was just the beginning.
It swelled from gentle apprehension
to debilitation,
swelled into my older years
as my body tried to heal itself
from a violent sort of affection.
Seven years after,
I’ve been sleeping fair,
and those boys who loved me
with their fists and teet
have slept themselves to death.
You must understand, you must.
I still shake myself open
as night hangs upon the walls
like an affliction.
Nights have become things to wish away.
Hours heave and shrink.
After the moon sets itself
beyond my breaking point,
and before light rises
upon our cracking house
only to remind us of what we didn’t accomplish
the day before, then,
that is when I hear that voice,
like a good British doctor
from a movie based upon
an old, womany novel,
oh thank God
she is out of danger now.

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