After Four Hours Sleep
Her key quietly turning in a lock three rooms away
rarely meets my consciousness at this time of day.
She must think me a layabout when she arrives at nine
and finds me soundly sleeping, blissfully supine.
The dishes that I washed last night, she places on a shelf
(The ones I didn’t find the time to put away myself.)
She sorts clothes from the hamper, each color in its mound,
and takes them to the laundry room, all without a sound.
What time she arises I’ve never thought to ask,
but before she climbs the hill to this thrice-weekly task,
she has her family duties and the morning meal to fix.
Surely she must start her busy day at least at six.
When finally at nine-thirty she hears me leave my hive,
she must give a prayer of thanks to find I’m still alive.
And though she doesn’t find me to be demanding or haughty,
nonetheless this sleeping-in must seem to her most naughty.
How can she know I lay awake until four hours ago?
She cannot know the truth of it unless I tell her so.
No book will ever tell the tale of how I tossed and turned,
immolating castoff words in midnight oil I burned.
Words can be a blessing when they find a way to sort themselves—
lining up on paper where they’ve learned how to comport themselves,
but making lists of words to use did not bring on sleep.
Instead, I lay with open eyes, my thoughts all in a heap.
And when I finally sorted them, deciding which to reap,
knowing which to throw away and which ones I should keep,
(a wordsmith’s substitution for merely counting sheep)
I closed up my computer and finally fell asleep.