‘Just before sleep’ by Peter Taylor is Write Out Loud’s Poem of the Week
How long have you been writing poetry and what was your initial influence for doing so?
How long? 6 yrs. Initial influence: the realisation that of all the forms of beauty, the written word is the one that is most likely to summon tears of happiness (in the right hands, of course).
Is there a particular style of poetry that you enjoy writing more than others, if so why?
My favourite style is whatever flows on the day.
Have you ever performed your work, if so any advice for those still to do so?
I've performed my work often and my tip is to boldly proclaim the title - and the rest should be plain sailing
If you could only have one poetry book which one would it be?
My favourite poetry book is the one that has Prufrock in it.
Which four persons, living or dead would you like to share your last meal with?
Tony Blair (for the real story about Iraq); my best mate, John, because he'd make us all laugh, as usual; one representative of our 5 children (as they can't all be there); and of course my wife, Clare, as she'd brighten up any day.
Just before sleep
by Peter Taylor
I close my eyes and, most times, feel
the watching dark lean over us, breathe
deeply in, blow long, slow rings of
sleep across each grateful brow, then
wrap our limbs around with silken sheets,
two cocooned souls prepared for night.
So soft the silks, so firm the threads,
I cannot say I stay abed or float
among the tops of trees; there is but
black, I cannot halt the unravelling of any
web spun overnight – those about in early light,
of dewy gossamer, while they do delight,
are of the magic of the day, like you, but
when we sleep, do we touch or turn away?
Some nights before we shut day down
we talk a little – just a little – I hear the words
but see no trace of tenderness as you will not
acquiesce in eyes unveiling – though, to be clear,
while I do not doubt your gentle voice,
your eyes are as the soaring of the swallow to
the singing of the speckled lark; let neither leave,
you house them both inside your heart.
You tell me I’m too quick, too hot,
not considerate enough of differences.
And you are not convinced when I say
I am man and cannot refine or re-define
all of me; I may learn to love the
pruning of a tree but do not raise the axe or
push the saw to loose the trunk from root,
the sap from bough (that’s not all of love, anyhow).
Is there time to find a few more
moments of the day or night to share
a simple, single act of deep devotion?
For each to say, despite the way
today has gone, I’ve shared with you
the best, the worst, the in-betweens of
all my sorrows, joys it seems I’ve spared you from –
till now, our time to reconcile.
I close my heavy eyes and lie, flat-backed,
upon the bed. Instead of calling sleep to do
its work, I shirk its numbing ministrations and
whisper in your ear it’s time for us to learn to
love and state and celebrate this love – and, one day,
maybe dream together to the end.