Awake at a small hour. Try an arm overhead, between the pillows,
Recovery position, one leg crooked. Forearm chilled
Neck stiff, abandon the attempt that way.
Turn on my back, straighten, stretch, don't twist
In the middle, hips will feel the strain before too long, but straighten.
Close eyes, better to rest, awake, than tire yourself in the hunt
For sleep that will outrun you.
Thoughts proceed, branch or end, join again, touch one another,
Where one dies another springs, opaque or translucent, linear or discrete,
Or run like whorls or rivulets, unpredictable, irregular but still
Their shapes discernible. Until, quite unexpectedly,
Something steps in, their patterns are broken, occluded,
By a solid, living form. Hush, there, see! It's sleep.
Don't move towards it, or try to touch it,
Don't scratch that itch or ask that question,
Or sleep will off, elude, escape you ...
Like when ( and is this a real or created memory? I hardly know), as children,
In chalkland beechwoods we kicked, mildly bored, through leafmould,
Looking for a cloven print, observed the chewed off tops of round-stemmed grasses
(The pith of their peeled insides like white sponge rubber), resigned,
That would be all we'd see of fallow deer, until the moment
When the doe stepped out into the path, her dappled substance now
And not the wood suddenly the sole reality.
Or when I stood by the stream that runs into the ponds at La Tantouille,
Idly watching and hearing its movement over the stones, then became aware
Of another movement, another presence, moving towards me up the streambed.
Momentarily I understood true panic,
The bewildering gift of the god of wild things,which turned
To wonder, and gratitude, when the fox, her head lowered,
Paddled out from beneath the overhanging twigs and leaves,
And raised her eyes to look at me, held my gaze
An instant, and was gone.
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