I haven’t been sleeping
I stay awake at night for hours. I breathe the way I was taught to breathe in labor. Inhale for four counts, exhale for eight. I press the bottoms of my feet together.
I read. I try to let thoughts come and go.
I was on the couch the other day and I closed my eyes and felt sure there were people, beings, ghosts, spirits, on the other side of a darkness, a bubble, and they were guiding me, moving me, pushing and pulling me.
But they weren’t angels.
We have words for things—angel, ghost, god, but they don’t mean any one thing.
When we fall to sleep it is never all at once. It is slow or fast. A retreat. When I can’t sleep it is a backwards dance that is interrupted, I am pulled up, over and over again.
When the world ends it won’t be all at once. When our world ends, it won’t be all at once. Whether it is ocean levels rising, floods or fire, wind or a colliding planet, a hail of stone, the sun swelling, the universe rewinding, contracting, a slow starvation, asphyxiation, a gun shot, cancer, a blockage in our brain, old age, a lonely heart.
We can be erased by swells of hate and, also, swells of love.
When I was young, my father and I agreed, if there were ever a nuclear attack, we would go on the roof to watch the light encompass the city and flash over us.
I feel haunted that I won’t, don’t appreciate what I have. I can’t sink into moments or gratefulness enough. I think about my grandmother making me an ice cream cake for my birthday. I was six or seven. She liked to make things so we wouldn’t have to buy them. I worry I didn’t thank her enough. I worry I wasn’t grateful enough. I worry she will die and she won’t know what I’ve felt, what I remember. I want to tell everyone what they mean to me, how I love them, but I can’t. Sometimes it’s not appropriate. It will drive people away, all this I feel. I’ve spent my life trying to make my feelings smaller, more compact,
When I die I can feel what I want. I can love how I want. How much. How little.
We can forgive each other all at once, in a wave, for not being enough. Right now we forgive like sleep, we accept each other and then we retreat, we take it back, we pull away.
I just want you to know how I’ve loved you, everyone and everything, after the hard shells and dirt and pain and lies and all we must do to live is stripped away.
I have a daughter. Ten months old. She squirms away from me. She wants the world. To face it. To taste it. To watch. To touch.
But the other day she leaned her head against me. I curled my body around her.
I closed my eyes because I was tired. I am tired all the time. When I opened them again her eyes had that far away look, like sleep is coming. She was half way there. So was I.
I closed my eyes again and she closed hers. I prayed, please, when I die, let me live in this moment forever.
We drifted on that magic carpet to sleep and no one pulled it from under us.