Bio Note: I am a woman in my late sixties, finding my voice as a poet after many decades of silence. I've had a long career as a classroom teacher, grades 6 through 12 math and science, plus time with incarcerated juveniles and adults. Now I teach part-time online, one student at a time, and I have the luxury of plenty of time for poetry. I live and write on a hill overlooking the ocean, about 20 miles south of San Francisco.
Approaching the Sevens
My face is older than my me especially in the too early when I’ve forgotten how to sleep and my mouth does not yet remember how to smile. My arms are older than themselves when I bend forward to brush my hair, pitted, drooping as if asleep, then replumping when I’m upright again— a preview of old-lady-arms to come. My hands are blazing this trail for me, such a thin veneer of skin, part leopard now, branches of the Nile threaded in between, fingers a little gnarly, sometimes stiff, complaining like the crows who left their footprints above. My legs are younger than the rest, still strong and shapely; please view them with naked presbyopia-eyes, blind to any pink varicose flowers. I’ve got pill bottles in a row on the counter, more on a shelf in the fridge, silvering hair, warm socks in bed, prunes for stewing, a recliner for napping, reading glasses in every room. Meanwhile, the compassion lines on my face are also embroidered on my heart— my heart, younger than my old, older than my young. The blue heron stands on one leg, completely still, waiting for the moment just before it’s time to fly. I wait with him, chocolate ice cream melting in my mouth. My heart is every age, and none.
Ménage à Trois
I’m in a long-term relationship with Insomnia now, lucky me - quite intimate. Sometimes he greets me at bedtime, bringing his friend, the accordion player, ready for us to dance a polka. Other times he waits, creeps in at 3 a.m., quieter, juggling worry-balls, tossing a few my way. We’ve been monogamous, apparently committed, though there’s been no discussion; I hesitate to tell him, but suppose I must: I’ve been flirting with the Nap-Man, meeting up most afternoons, and I find he’s quite irresistible.
Sleeping is His Superpower
He can drop off anytime, it’s an easy, familiar trip; no need for a map or the Google lady, almost never any slowdowns on that road. I live in a different kingdom, where sleep is a rumored destination almost never reached— the road meanders, forgets where it’s going; maps aplenty out there but I can’t seem to unfold them correctly, and there are so many detours along the way. Bumpety-bump… a flat tire? My little snort, not exactly a snore but not a delicate-princess sound, either, jerks me away from the edge of sleep. Dream images, half-grasped, linger then fade: trying to steer from the passenger seat next to my Looney-Tunes mother who holds up a newspaper in front of her face and randomly presses the pedals… Soft light diffuses though flowered curtains, speckling shadows on the wall. The wind sets aspen leaves quaking, cawing crows argue above. He sleeps deep and long, fully surrendered, right leg thrown over the covers, one arm reaching up, the other down. I lie there next to him, lost in a maze of half-paved streets, fighting the urge to drive up beside him and force him off the road.
©2023 Cynthia Bernard
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