A bed should be a tender slab, devoid of insects.
A tired woman should be able to lie across diagonally,
headache to hag feet.
A bed should exist in crystalline silence.
It should have a sleepy blue view.
A nearby window not close to voyeurs.
A bed should have a special pillow to shush the head,
to coddle and safety the amygdala.
If established on the ground, a bed should have
a bioluminescent quilt to redirect the gaze: the prey
is over there.
If established in a tree, the quilt may allow for free feet
or a tossback with luxuriant abandon.
Among other things, do not build your bed on dictionaries
or books of any kind.
A bed is best made from a wood frame, or metal, or dark matter.
A bed should be free of lye, lime, and liars.
One should be able to enter the bed and think
I could fly far away in this. I could die; I could just die.
Copyright © 2023 by Jill Khoury. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 14, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.
“This poem was inspired by many hours spent in mental health treatment facilities and outpatient therapy groups, an experience that leaves me both grateful and frustrated. In these environments, one receives a lot of handouts. One day I got a handout called Insomnia Protocol; the goal was an absolutely brutal revision of one’s sleep schedule to ‘cure’ insomnia. It got me thinking about the futility of a ‘cure,’ and about the many reasons a person would not be able to sleep besides a failure to comply with a handout. Essentially, it’s sleep inequity: who gets to sleep where and for how long?”