Poetry Monday! Here’s something to hopefully brighten your day. Or at least distract you from Monday-ness…

“Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep.”   — National Sleep Foundation

I was born knowing how to sleep,
a blissful baby sleepyhead like
most. Yet sometime in my
sensitive-brain big-imagination
kid days, I froze:  “You mean
I could DIE before I WAKE?”
That prayer I’d said
hundreds of nights now
sinking in. Have I ever
slept well again since?

My poor little Soul made
bargains with God, made
up routines I’d follow and
cling to, sure they would
keep me alive. I put off falling
asleep, lying awake listening
with shivering bat-sonar
ears to night noises, house
stirrings, possible footsteps.
I created nightmares with
eyes open, body tight,
breath shallow.

Decades have passed
on this bumpy ride with
sleep. There have been so
many ways to elude it,
caught in webs of worry,
niggles of fretting, pulses
of panic. Or sometimes
succumbing to childhood
fear reruns,  Grownup-
Style. What’s that pain?
A brain aneurysm!
A heart attack! (I’m only
a little neurotic. Really.)

Sleep? I’d say. I’m not
a fan, burning both ends
of candles, the days
still too short, too much
I want to do. I don’t
need to sleep. Really.

But then came those months
after trauma when sleep
packed its bags and left me
entirely. Bleary, I knew
every long hour of night.
The sleep I’d once spurned
I begged for: pills, herbal
remedies, meditation,
relaxation, teas, alcohol.
I was brittle, rubbed raw,
desperate for rest and
respite. The only medicine
was time. Eventually.

These days, I have mostly
made peace with my nights.
I’ve felt sleep’s healing
touch, the body-brain repair
It brings. I have new routines
to calm down my nervous
system, to channel my (still)
overactive imagination. At
times I resist with books
or Internet, but I know
sleep now, the deep
satisfaction when I’m
not starved for it, the
way it feels to
wake up wanting
to sing.

I wish I could go back
to my 8 year old self,
sadly clutching covers.
I would kiss her brow and
whisper, it’s okay. Not
that prayer. Close your
eyes, Dear One. It will
all be okay.

I can’t wait to see
what you
will dream.


Below is one of my favorite very-cool videos, which just happens to be sleep-related. What about you–  are you someone who luxuriates in sleep, or is it a love-hate relationship? Share in the comments, if you please!

[Photos courtesy of Alexandra Gorn and Annie Spratt of Unsplash.com]