Insomnia - Poem by Leah Browning
While unpacking, I find your jacket, bent
into an unnatural shape in a carton full
of books. The fabric is worn, one pocket
pulled apart at the seam. This is evidence,
though of what I don’t know—of pain, or love,
or both, or neither. We’re all metaphor
at this point. So I hold the jacket in my hands.
There is no reason to keep it, yet I can’t bear
to throw it away, and you won’t take it back.
You’ve never told me why, and I don’t ask,
for fear that the answer will be one that I don’t
want to hear. But now, sitting alone
surrounded by boxes, I press my face to this
worn blue fabric and find that after all this
time, I’ve lost you. It doesn’t smell familiar
anymore; it has been stored too long in cardboard.
When I saw you last, you spoke of insomnia,
of days without sleep. I imagined you resting
your head in my lap while I stroked your hair.
And now, from miles and miles away, I open
my eyes in the dark and wish I knew what you
think of, lying awake every night. My sleeplessness
is lonely, but perhaps yours is not; perhaps you
look into the dark, empty air and find a densely
peopled space, one more vibrant than the world
you live in by day. Or perhaps you read or paint
or watch television, or perhaps someone standing
in the dark outside your window would see you
sitting in the soft light of the kitchen drinking
warm milk, looking blindly out into the night.
I want to thread myself like a needle
through your life, and yet, you ruin me
for mine. If we spend an hour together,
it’s an hour too much: I can’t let go of you.
You color everything I say and think
and dream until you seem more real
than the face in front of my face,
the one that says, Where are you? and makes me
shake my head and say, I don’t know, because
I don’t, but what I don’t say is that I don’t care
about that, about any of this; all I want to be
is where you are.
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