I never take naps. Not because I don’t become sleepy on a lazy Sunday afternoon or a sultry weekday evening, but because upon waking from my naps I feel awful and ornery and not particularly happy about being alive. And then there is the problem of sleeping at night after napping during the day. I know people who take daily 20-minute “power naps” and wake up happy and refreshed, full of vim. Not me. But for Mom and Dad, naps have become necessary and pleasurable parts of the daily routine. At their age, the mere act of living is fatiguing, requiring rejuvenating naps. And after Dad mows the lawn or Mom finishes the laundry, they are ready to settle drowsily into their recliners, where sleep overtakes them. They awake cheerful and ready for the next round of life.
(Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.)
I went to bed early one evening, overcome by fatigue, stress, over-stimulation, and worry. But I could not sleep for all the ambient sounds that my ears so perfectly picked out. Instead of sleeping, I scrawled out this poem. Was it really sleep that I needed? Or did I need the ability in the moment to find joy and wonder in all that surrounded me? Did the ear plugs help or hinder my state of being? Let me know what you think.
Bulbous beetle sees
my nightstand light
and bounces his exoskeleton
against the vertical trampoline
of the window screen,
bounces three times,
his lace wings rasping like
sheets of stiff cellophane;
he can’t enter into my room
to reach the light he longs for,
and we both are the better for it.
Incorporeal sounds sail through—
a filly whinnying over his weaning,
a puppy straining and yapping
at her collar and leash,
our cat defending her kittens
against the neighbor’s surly tom,
children screaming delightedly
as they run at night in the grass,
only to bicker over turns
on the round trampoline—
they all drift in
to settle upon me
like a New England Bible
on a dying man’s chest.
Orange plugs twisted into my ears
dull it all, stop even
the crooning of the crickets
and the breeze’s inviting whisper.
From 100 yards away the neighbor’s dog howls in the night. I don’t know how they sleep–I sure am not sleeping. For extended periods he barks, a deep bellowing boom. Though I am enjoying the cool night air of early Summer, I have to shut the windows and shove orange plugs into my ears to block out the noise. It would be silly (I find myself thinking) to call Animal Control–this is the country, after all. And I am too fearful to confront them. After months and months, the dog moved away. I’m sure he was a dutiful dog, but it was not a tearful parting.
The neighbor’s dog—
an underachieving, if dramatic,
has a great deal to say
most nights, at 01:13, or 04:22, or 05:41. Continue reading