On Christmas day, I fell asleep
on the rug I can’t remember.
It was pneumonia, I was small, and
no one knew how to play the piano yet,
to wake me with carols
I’d suffer to sing.
In our shared bed, she begged for stories.
Schools of fish in multicolor mixing across
human prejudice. Reenactments of
movie musicals boiled and
thickened into memory.
Moving cars were cradles:
An engine’s hum beneath my short legs,
head unhinged bouncing between
cold glass and the near-noose of seatbelt nylon.
At the exit, I stirred but pretended sleep,
hoping Dad might carry me inside.
It was tenderness, not ease.
I wonder why I never simply asked.
The floors were hardwood, so
I did crunches on the soft bed,
listened to the old slats fall
and gazed at the ceiling fan.
We didn’t call them boom boxes anymore,
but it was busy drowning out
the story in my head, the one about
a teenager named Natalie who wanted to be
beautiful and smart at the same time.
Her room was ten steps away, but
there were nights when we’d rather not sleep
alone. She couldn’t tell me who I was.
The stranger she’d kissed on the dance floor
couldn’t give her health insurance.
My long body and hers compact running on,
two un-indented paragraphs sidling close
hunching toward meaning.
We slammed the futon into the center of the studio,
collapsed in Indian Summer.
I wished the windows had screens.
He was drunk when he told me he loved me.
I got high on believing him,
on the way my hair looked wild in the morning
after turning over, a rabbit on a spit,
in the suffocating heat of my city cell, under
the weight of Grendel’s arm across my waist.
He admired the blue-gray of my bedroom,
imagined the tension in my arms as they pressed
pigment into what must have been Builders’ beige,
completing the work alone because it hurts to think
another slept where he sometimes sleeps.
When the parasites invaded,
I slept with the lights and all my clothes on.
Insects aren’t that smart, but the ears, eyes, and nose
are pathways to the brain.
When they were dead, I asked
the God I don’t believe in
How long before I rest?
You slept; I didn’t.
So I noticed when your leg seized mine at 2am
and wondered what magazines would say
about the way couples sleep.
Pirate leg means possession?
We’d laugh and call it luck.
In the semi-conscious space of the snooze button,
you reached for my body, which introduced my brain,
and we rested there for nine minutes.
I think that we are more than bodies and brains,
but not just now.