Graham Stone

The Peace In Sleep

It’s late, I’ve lost track of time,
So enthralled with the novel at my hands.
I yawn, I blink, I pop the stiff bones in the crook of my neck.
I look over the thumbed paper pages,
And gaze about my room from my perch at the end of my bed.
My fatigued and beleaguered eyes struggle for a moment
Straining to comprehend
The mass of tightly bundled limbs, bushed hair,
And copious streams of black woollen fabric before me.
Ah, my friend huddled in a ball of slumber across my bed,
Her back to the headboard, my pillow flat beneath her head.
I stare awhile, curious and shameful, as though i ought not pry
On such a delicate moment.
I note the rise and fall of her frame as the tide of deep sleep
Lazily surges air in and out of her with slow and heavy effect,
I note the clasp of her hands, as they bind tight to one another
Mimicking a position of prayer as they lay close,
Pulled in tight to her chest.
Suddenly the notion of prayer vanishes
And I am filled with the vision of her as a child, clasping tightly,
Protectively to some small and precious thing.
I note the fetal stance she has pulled her limbs into,
And again this compels the image of the child further.
I note the dirt that clings to the soles of her feet,
Dust and debris collected and pressed against the coarse skin.
Yet it accumulates only on the pads and toes;
The high arch of her in-step avoiding such contact with the floor.
I note how the black woollen shawl she has draped about her
Ripples in a still stream of thick soft fabric,
Shrouding the majority of her softly contorted form,
I watch as it too, moves with the rise and fall of her slow and heavy breath.
I note then, that I can hear the soft whispers of her breath passing through her
Slightly parted lips, as though they were sentences without words.
I note the infinite lengths of the dull blonde hairs
As they spill from her scalp and cascade uncontrollably about her,
Framing her face and clashing with the folds of her shawl,
Before descending down her back under their own weight and length.
I note how the warm light from the lamp catches her hair
And highlights the strands elegantly,
Bending their colour under the warmth until they are almost ginger.
The wild fiery freedom of her hair, it occurs to me,
Is a wonderful metaphor of her character,
For when this slumbering girl is awake, passion and free will
Course themselves strongly with such confidence,
it streams through in her veins...
But not now, no, not at this moment.
Here she rests, oblivious to the world,
And unprovoked by its occurrences.
No, now I note her face is not its usual picture of startling lust of life,
Instead, her brow is unfurled, not bowed nor creased by the worries it bears.
Her lips lay smooth, neither in smile nor frown, but impassive,
Offering only the soft and unversed breaths of air
That keeps her mortal frame clinging absently to the present.
But mostly, i note her eyes, expressionless, hidden beneath their lids,
Not open and burning bright and blue with vigour and reason,
Instead they roll melodically as they follow the ‘scapes of her dreams.

I am suddenly overcome by her and tear my eyes away.
She is precious to me. Her will, her passion, her absolute vigour,
It distils a multitude of purposes into my own life,
as though I am some sort of parasite,
Sucking on the nectar of someone else’s spirit.
The thought disgusts me. I turn from it,
Not in fear or loathing or shame, but sadness.
I am suddenly saddened by her brevity, her mortality,
For in my knowing her, is the knowledge that such thing
As i once put it, will “rot into a timely river of rancid decay”.
I turn coat and run utterly from the thought.
Though i often see both sides of jester’s mask,
i care not for dwelling over the weeping face of things.

Instead i am compelled to look back at my own past,
How hap-hazardly i have hacked a course into life,
As though with a blunt scythe into dense long-grass,
Without much cause, care or consideration of where i happen to blunder.
I then think over what i know of her past.
What relics of her own life she has offered up so conversationally.
And I think of the million tiny random acts of cause and effect
That have pushed us into one another’s acknowledgement.
I find the notion daunting; it fills me with a level of nausea
And utter apprehension that so many things should
Have to fall so perfectly into place,
So that chance, pure undiluted chance, may introduce us.
I ponder deeply on these musings for what seems an age,
Never losing the hollow comprehension of the fragility of my own tiny life.

A slight snort, a soft mumble, I look over to her again.
The girl asleep across my bed,
Her back to the headboard, my pillow flat beneath her head.
And i smile. I may muse the meanings of our beings until
The days of judgement and retribution,
Or i can simply appreciate the beauty of the moment while it lasts.

I lean over to the slumbering bundle of limbs
And gently place a hand atop of hers,
Nudging slightly in a jest to wake her.
She moans a moment, mumbles, and creases her brow
Before opening a squinted, bleary eye,
“it’s late” i say softly,
Opposing the usual harsh guttering vibrations
That erupts from my throat and pass as speech.
She mumbles again,
Somewhere between a moan of indignation and a sigh.
She closes her squinted eye.
“Five more minutes” she whispers croakily,
Before turning her face into the pillow.
I smile again.
“Five more minutes” I whisper back to her,
But she had already drifted back into heavy peaceful sleep.

Poem Submitted: Thursday, March 31, 2011

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