SHE SLEEPS                                                                         

I wake up early most morning times

to fret about this and that inside my head,

accumulating tiredness, while she lies,

serene, a dream playing with her eyelids

and now and then a corner of her mouth.

In moments of doubt, I shake her wrist

or touch her lips and she wakes,

in a riot of eyelashes, flashing

the loss of connection to the

night story, her hair a honey glory

of curls swirling across the pillow,

perfectly placed so her face rises

right in the middle, where she left it last night.


There is a moment, just a moment,

moving from one world to the other,

when she seems unsure of whether

she should push through to the new day,

play a ray of light to help the sun along;

or slip back into the soft folds of the

old night’s incantations which have

enchanted and cleansed her. She

usually decides, nearly arrived, to stay,

ready to be provider, adviser, a shoulder,

a foot soldier in each day’s denial

of the negative, the grey, the single file.

She is a shepherdess of human hearts.


And when she’s weary after each allotted

task is done, and the sand of a day has

long plunged down the narrow gap by which

acts that come from love alone

should be allowed to pass, I

ask myself whether it is right to

burden her when sleep calls. Sometimes

I stare at two dark walls or across

the room to a lowered blind, find

peace of mind in knowing she has

prayed for me, in her own way, and so

join her in her journeys through riddles we’ve set

in waking hours, by leaving much unsaid.


Which leads to thoughts of bed, the night-time

chessboard, each game played in pairs, where

combinations of pieces, awake and sleeping,

guess and out-guess the others, then themselves.

They dig and delve into a shifting void of

untold, un-dared desires and requirements that

litter the emptiness, unsure as to where to go,

what to try, whether to fall or fly, whom to seek out.


Such are my thoughts, somewhere between the

night’s black and white. I think I am there alone,

most of the time; and as the sun begins to buy the day,

I see the peace in the new lines in the new face

and know who won at chess in just one move.




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Hazel ettridge

Sat 18th Aug 2018 21:58

I liked this very much but got a bit lost around the chessboard.

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Frances Macaulay Forde

Tue 14th Aug 2018 01:56

The first stanza is my favourite in a lot of lovely words.

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Kate G

Sun 12th Aug 2018 21:53

Wonderful Peter, I love the chess board analogy

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