To enter the bed we kneel
And fall into the white abyss.
Sleep is a form of fainting,
The altar of the pillow swirls with wisps
Of fading consciousness - a priest
Comes down the aisle flicking dreams out
From an ancient ewer.


Watch a sleeping man,
Even then they still seem awesome
To me with an air of tragedy
Like a fallen horse.
His conversation with the night
Is not the same as mine,
Our personalities are the sheets
On which we sleep
And no amount of washing
Wears them out.


Soft snores from sleeping children
The flicker of a limb -
Their depth of sleep - entranced, they seem
To travel sucking their thumbs
In the carriage of their cot
Across the ruts of history.


A ward of sleeping women
Is a peaceful boat.
Jaws unleashed like brassieres,
They lie trusting on the deck.
Their devoted illnesses sleep beside them,
Only the doctors' notes clipped like love letters
To the bed
Reveal the destination of each affair.


Click here to download an MP3 audio reading of this poem, as read by Poetry Editor Philip Harvey.



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