Between 02.00 and 03.00. Arthritis wakes me up and has me downstairs awaiting the effects of the tablet. This, a second draft of the second of two insomnia poems.
Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care. The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath. Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course. Chief nourisher in life's feast.
Night falls. It bellies up to windows, crowds
the house. Da capo – dancing blind again:
stuck in a lift, trapped in a mineshaft,
premature burial. A hood, a mask, a carbon
lens across the eyes. A brush with oblivion,
I mutter, cotton-mouthed and bitter. Sleep
is a secret whispered to everyone else;
I’m kept in the dark.
Then cries from your cradle: birdsong,
catcalls – you have a menagerie in your throat.
I climb the stairs in twos and find you caught
between solstice and equinox with a pulse
beating behind your eyes. I hold you tight
and draw your dream in a heartbeat.
You smile and, turning in my arms once,
you spill sleep like a benediction. The cipher
cracks. Darkness has no name. I slide
between its sheets.