"Handmade Blade, Child's Balloon"
Hunting the Snipe of Sleep
As water seeps through my nightgown, and mud,
pungent and black, clings to my fingers, I scrabble slowly
toward dawn. I crawl through dark swamps. Winged
as a curlew, long-beaked as a woodcock,
sleep dives whistling through the shattered night.
Burdocks and beggars ticks
burrow into my hair, biting me
with tiny pointed teeth.
I carry a snare for the snipe
of sleep, but when it swoops by and I reach
to snag it, my fingers pass, ethereal, through
ghostly feathers, intangible as the clouds
of fog that drift past, damp, taunting
and utterly ungraspable. Dreams tumble by,
hauntingly near but always beyond reach.
They refuse to descend into my parched eyes.
Gibbering voices of dream phantoms
talk in tongues, in unlearned or unknown languages
while aurora-colored curtains flutter
around my face in tatters. Warm snow
drifts from the sky, but never touches my face.
Night tears itself in strips, shreds itself into confettis
of longing. Never will the snipe of sleep
be domesticated, it can neither be captured
nor kept. Beyond feral, beyond savage,
it ranges, elusive, toothy, taloned and mean.
Insomnia sucks, leechlike, shrinking
the cinder of my heart.