The End of Sleep

Peter Boysen

I wake up in the attic again today.
My home doesn’t have an attic, but
I still wake up there more often than not.
Most attics have Christmas trees
Extra luggage
Old photo albums
Grandpop’s old foot locker
Tennis rackets made mysteriously of wood (the head inside that
        odd trapezoid)

But this attic
Is more than a little different

There is one light bulb hanging from a long cord
That vanishes into the dark reaches above it
And comes on with a muffled ding
When you pull its string
Sending icicles of light into every corner of this
Cavern at the top of the house

The bed where I wake up is sometimes
The used Eurway bed where we drank from each other
Feasted each other
So many times
In this bed I could imagine that mighty trunk
Running down from one post
Into the Ithacan soil, down to the center of the earth.
But usually it’s just the short of end that sectional
Where she’d fall asleep
And I’d brood
Our dislocated bed
Twisted out of shape by our demands, by our deeds

I make myself crawl out of bed
Not wanting to see what I know will be there.
A hand that once held the back of my head
When we danced
When I’d just gotten a haircut
And our lips danced together
Lies there on the floor, fingers curled just like I remember
        them.

There’s a string coming out of the back of that hand
Like they used to put on the backs of dolls.
If I pull it, I hear her contagious laugh
That still echoes around my empty house

I walk toward the hand, but it divides into a thousand spiders
        that run,
Run as fast as they can toward the far wall
Which has secretly sprouted a door, open to admit them, now
        closing.
I move toward the door, but between the door and me appear
A matrix of cobwebs

I try to step toward that safe safe door
But the cobwebs become her hair,
Her arms,
Hands,
Sumptuous silky slinky sleepwear,
Fingers,

Then the door has gone, leaving the grayest of walls.
I walk to it, feeling for where the door might have gone
Then my phone buzzes
And it’s her
Wondering
When I’m going to
Just
Let
GO.

 

***

Peter Boysen has taught literature for the past twenty-three years and is the proud father of triplets. He was written professionally for fourteen years and is publishing his first poems.