January 16, 2009
Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite writers of all time. This poem has been passed around and I don't know if it's in one of her books I haven't yet read, but it's one I love.
She wrote another one, Variations on the Word Love which is also quite popular, but it's this one that touches me, somehow. There's such a vulnerability in sleep, and the way the poem draws one and immerses one into deeper and deeper layers reminds me of actually falling asleep, and in that depth, there is a vast intimacy. The final line clinches it for me -- and it also brings up the question of whether or not I really would ever want to be that person -- so necessary and unnoticed -- and selfless enough to be unnoticed.
"Variations On The Word 'Sleep'"
I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head
and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in
I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.
Poetry Friday today is hosted at The Blog With The Shockingly Clever Title. Keep a good thought for Karen today as she battles plumbing gremlins!