I spend a long time considering pillowcases.
Which pillowcase does my head want for rest?
A lace edge so that the cheek does not grow bored?
All night the face turns on its pillow,
bridging the day gone with its divination of tomorrow.
The brain sleeps but the body twitches and kicks,
lashes out, steals the sheets, twists the blankets
into thick, furred knots. Thomas Huxley believed
the mind’s shrill whistle contributed nothing
to the locomotive body; Plato, that the mind
knows great truths while the body lives in shadows.
What I know is how sleep releases the body
from me telling it where to put its feet, its fingers,
how the tongue should roll its Rs, when the teeth
may bite or gnash. I give it my consideration
of pillowcases, of lotions and textures it may like,
or farther afield—an actual field—clover against
the skin. The sound of insects rising as the sun sets,
the head leaned back into a cradle of hands,
how the head adores the hands though they
are separated by so much and the jealousy of arms.
Body, I will lay you down beside
another body you have grown to love.
I will bid you still in the moments before sleep
and then I will hand you the keys to the house
and let you spend the night plying all the locks.
In the morning I will wash you with care
and lead you around and treat you kindly
and if there is sobbing it is not my sobbing
and we will both pretend not to hear it.
Copyright @ 2014 by Karen Skolfield. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on July 23, 2014.