I have a sleep disorder that – compounded currently by the side effects of medication – ensures that each and every night is fragmented into a sort of archipelago of the 5 stages of slumber varying from just stages 1 and 2 up to the full cycle, including REM. In between these sequences is inserted from time to time long periods of insomnia. Living as we do in relative rural isolation, this means that the sometimes comforting social sounds of nocturnal traffic, arrivals and departures and even the late-night carolling of a friendly drunk are denied us. Randy cats, foraging foxes and the haunted crooning of the barn owl only serve to underpin the sense of utter isolation and exposure that can be the principle characteristics of insomnia. This poem describes a joyful exception to that dilemma.
THEIR VOICES IN THE NIGHT
Unable to sleep, I sit before
the heartless brilliance of the screen
with the real-world darkness
hovering, fearful but persistent,
at my back. It seems as if time
has packed her bags and left
for the coast and then beyond.
I take off my glasses, knuckle away
the mess of my tears. And then,
like importunate drunks through
a suddenly opened door, the geese
are overhead. Some crass dispute
as to the whereabouts of water
in the impossible night, their voices
skronking inside a collision of
cranking necks and wings. As they
tumble through the unseen clouds,
I laugh out loud and love them all
for their unconsidered vandalism,
neither thought nor theory troubling
the palate of their need.
THEIR VOICES IN THE NIGHT – AUDIO.