I Didn'T Want To Waste It All Sleeping - Poem by Patti Masterman
The old dog is gone and now even his touch is going away;
Soft beds of earth he wallowed out beneath the bushes,
Trails he wove in the drying grass, around the foundations-
Now blurring with time. The new dog doesn't walk the same paths,
And where he felt like family, she feels like a prolonged guest.
But in time, even she will feel less like an in-law and more like a child.
I too am only a guest now in my own walls, tiptoeing about
Worried to disturb the peace with a raucous outcry, for no reason at all,
Tense that my sudden temper will upset something priceless,
Which has been secreted somewhere within the walls and which,
Even if I ran into it- I might not recognize it's real value.
I wallow my own hole out in the nights, in bedclothes; in flesh:
Half awake and half dreaming at opposite ends of the poles;
Dead asleep in morning, and curiously wakeful at 3 in the morning,
Sometimes scribbling gibberish on lined paper, which means very little,
Trying to capture thoughts, which are like flashes of fickle fishes.
Trying to remember me, who I was; before I begin the forever forgetting
Which life imposes, as a cost of wearing about a brain full of memories.
Memories are mostly valuable to the bearer and can't be insured
Against the tides of loss, which invariably arrive. Can't even really be
Described to another, who wasn't at least somewhere within the same pictures.
After a while you realize, the latest dog might outlive you and become
An orphan, and live to compare you to other, later owners;
Instead of you comparing an old dog to a new one, and your children
To in-laws, who after all share the same genes. Half of your in-laws
Live in your child, with half of you; all peaceably sharing the same quarters;
That is the very strangeness of the life, as we live it down here.
A dog lives in dreams and waking, seven years for every year you spend.
We are slowly discarded within our own walls, like worn snapshots,
Bodies sloughed off like old snake-skins,
Worn out by life, disfigured by the wrinkles in our sheets,
Wearing fishbowls of memories inside our rounded skulls.
We pass on our genes and go, and the little packet of memories
At the end of all our motions, is dispersed, hopefully
In some meaningful way, and because no man is better than any other,
And since we outlive most of our dogs, we ought to try to make it
Of some lasting value; and I believe this is why I have insomnia,
And why I tremble at the sound of my own voice-
Because time is so little and the leaving for so long,
And I didn't want to waste it all sleeping.
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