The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Karen McPherson

        for E

Almost always I fall to sleep, hasty swirl around the drain, then sucked  
down complete into night’s cocoon. Your sleep’s a thin coverlet
of leaves on uneven ground—
the slightest breeze lifts and unsettles you.

Once or twice a year I have your nightmare.

Insomnia must be the mind’s cruelest joke. Numbers glowing pale
on the nightstand. Hour upon hour, seconds clicking by, an abacus
of endless sums.
I’m still awake. How do you do this, night after night after night?

My stranger brain is digging needles into the tender underbelly
of my thoughts. My censor is cracking open all the forbidden books
in my library. Nighttime is for those fears
we never share:                        the bottle stashed and emptied
                                                            I don’t mention.
                          Language I’m losing more and more
              these days. These hushed tangles of bindweed
                         and thistle we’ve learned to pretend
                                    aren’t there.

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