Something wakes us in the middle of the night. A feeling comes, vaguely imperative, a crick in the back perhaps, a something important happening in the provinces of the forgotten body, the body we have left behind in dreams to become the Prince of Tyre, to wear a mask of rock, to bear blindingly the shield of chrysoprase that Arcite bore against cloudy dragons…. But what was it really that woke us?
A hand moves behind the heavy curtain, reaching out, fingertips of cloth touching us softly, deeply, completely in sleep. Is this some memory our day life will not abide? A ghost too shy to stand at the coffeepot and share a cigarette with us in our slippers?
The hard light at noon tells us that we have no shadow self, nothing to be ashamed of, no time in our routine for secret thoughts. There is no turtle heart in the shut shell we pass on the road to Auburn, flickering its nervous pilot light within the impervious casing. All day we move things from one place to another place, cars, memos, forklifts, crates of contracted-for goods, fiestaware for the Hardys, their delicate necks hand-painted in Oaxaca by other “sleepless eremites.” And somewhere in the midst of the afternoon a mist of the pain, the pinch that woke us on the visitor’s couch returns. A quick grimace or unsatisfied yawn emerges. We are ready, even before dark, to enter our dreams again, to shake hands with the ghost perhaps, a dead man with our father’s worsted features, or a woman looking doomed but happy.
And a careless glee enters us, if we let it, if we follow the hint our unguarded yawn let escape, sliding down the winter hill again as children, the wind whipping our faces, the sled edgeless…