Original Poem: Variation on “Variation on the Word Sleep”

Variation on “Variation of the Word Sleep

Another one from the archives.  I wrote this in high school after one of my teachers introduced us to Margaret Atwood’s poem.  I loved this teacher and the fact that she loved poetry.  Up until this time, we’d only had very uptight and traditional teachers at my school, which was an all girls, Catholic school in Westchester.  I think a lot of us were a little bit in love with her, in the way that Lily Tomlin describes being in love with her Kindergarden teacher Ms. Sweeny.  Looking back on it now, I see it was more of that feeling of seeing what you want for yourself but the frustration of not quite being there yet.  Anyway, enjoy. 

My wish would be to sleep with you.

Not to Sleep
with you,

Like man sleeps with woman —
this talk of sleep yielding the uncanny
movements and hushed words whispered between
blankets and warm bodies, but

I’d like to sleep
with you. Near you.
In your apartment.

To have it be late.
For us to be alone, at first;
then to have your companion arrive; the knight in shining armor returning
from his magic kingdom of rehearsal space,
to greet you.

And I will slide down,
assume my position —
the one I was granted at birth as the
the third, the fifth, the watcher –
I’ll bend into my desk chair behind
the paper-clipped stacks of content couples.

I’d like to lie near you, touching.
For us to talk for long hours.
For your hand to slip over mine ever slightly
when our mutual passions surface in conversation.

And I’d like for you to
watch me,
To witness this drowsiness as it overcomes my senses,
and unties the knot of practicality inherent in holy children.

I’d like you to relax, to sedate your neuroses.
or if relaxation is not feasible, to
allow me the pleasure of closing my eyes on your couch,

your perfume filling up the place alongside your
disobedient love for him.

And I’d like to watch you, with him,
As I begin to sleep;
subtle touches held by backward glances and

I’d love to go to sleep here, in this peaceful
place, and wake up in my life that is
as I wish it to be.

Until my mothers pocketbook,
her secret, newfound cornucopia,
reminds her of the yearn to shop with me,
and guide me.

To play the obstructive, unending, irresistible game
that us two adults now play,
covering the loneliness of her now quiescent breast, knotted shoulders, and back,
Which cry out to be close to the one she begot.

Categories: Original Poetry

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