Oh, poor sleepless eyes

January 28, 2012
I can’t remember much about myself as a little girl.
I can’t remember the shape of my hands, feet, or chin.
I can’t feel the way that skin covered those bones,
or even hear the laugh
that made grown-ups wish they were children.
But oh! I can remember my poor, sleepless eyes.
I can remember the tear-singed paths
disappearing beneath my nightgown,
climbing the hills of my collarbones
to form crossroads with feverish sweat.
How my raw-rimmed nose would sniffle,
and let trickle
that never-ceasing spout of liquid booger.
The more my might, the more the sheets grew tight,
I’d feel my cheeks ignite! And thus continued
the up down, back forth, side to side
of my body and my mind.

I’d whisper: “Dear God,”
like I was writing a letter to a long lost friend.
“Dear God/Lord/Heavenly Body/whatever you are, take a moment to listen
to my troubles!” But, of course,
they warned me about this in Sunday school.
This sort of childish selfishness.
So I added, “I swear on the life of my precious parakeet,
put me to sleep! And I will never ask for anything again.”
And God replied-

except God never replied.
God laughed with all the force of the stars, water, earth, fish and fowl.
God laughed like a lion
who was just asked to help an ant build his anthill.
And God kept laughing! His tears pounded on the roof,
his fists thumped my mattress
faster and faster. Then slow…
‘til the air grew empty again.

Now my hips are wider,
my teeth straighter,
and my cheeks no longer dominate my face.
But who am I to pretend there aren’t nights
where my knuckles turn white clenching the bed posts
and my mind is hopped up on the three most sought after stimulants:
Worry, Woe, and Wonder.

I fear that only when I’m cold and lifeless,
(like my parakeet just two years later),
buried beside strangers laid row by row,
or strewn into the sea,
will I stop pleading with God
to put me to sleep.

Julia Jacobs

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