My sleep, when it happens, is a little bit see-through. A gossamer sheet that falls over my face, ghosts me from the world, for an hour, or two, sometimes four. I tell it bedtime stories about jail, how it –(some days)– stretched to nine hours long inside. It sounds like a fable, for who has ever heard of a sleep so grown? It sounds like a beanstalk stretched towards sky gold, but what did I trade for it? (Is my freedom, then, a type of cow? A slow-moving easily-corraled creature that is holied in some lands and sold to the highest bidder in others?)
My therapist is smarter than I, and I think she would be some kind of bird if she were magicked into a beast. I think I would be a bird, too. Sometimes, we turn our heads at the same time –(cockeyed, side-eyed)– you can almost hear our beaks snap against the ideas we have picked up. She stays still until my wings settle, till I remember that stand is as easy as flight. Sometimes this takes the whole hour and I wonder if she could always turn herself into a pinned piece of space and time, or if this is something she learned in school. She seems to be a bit of an eternal thing, and maybe that’s why she can always seem to remember that a bird is a type of dinosaur.
Sometimes, I forget.
Sometimes, lately, I forget a lot of things.
Over a year ago, I had a cluster of mini-strokes, and everything about that wording seems like the experience should have passed from my life as quickly as it came in.
Mini clusters of fireflies, delighting out of sight before you’re even sure you saw them.
Mini clusters of space dust, too small for us to have spotted until tools were built taller and mightier.
Mini cluster of sugar granules that plop into the morning coffee and dissolve into an existence more invisible than it ever was present.
But this is different.
This is what happens when the fireflies swarm directly at your face, when the space dust collide into each other and fall into our ocean and wash up a creature we didn’t even know was there. This is a sugar granule that has been pulled like a good sleep, cottoned into a fluff of cloud that sticks to your fingers and untidies your kisses.
This is unwieldy.
Everyone says they’re all a bit bird-brained sometimes, but lets use any manner of different words here–(No neocortex supremacy for me, thanks). And besides, this is different from a sty in your think. This is different from a fog in your brainwave.
This is insomnia, yes –(yes, of course)– but it is also that cluster.
They left divots in me.
In the moments when I pretend to sleep, to keep my body in rested-shape, I can no longer count sheep because I cannot hold the image of a sheep in my mind. I tell my brain, they look like angry clouds. They look like tight-curled loaves of bread. I try to remember the farm I grew up on, and I can feel the rough-press of sheep nose against my inner wrist, but I cannot remember the body of the animal.
Instead, I count cows. Purple ones, like those in the poem so loved by Mamasaur.
The Purple Cow
I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one,
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one!
If I count cows long enough, I start to see them turn into freedoms. I count those, too. They are endless, and holy, here in my heart, if not in the lands where my body grazes.
I try to count the things I cannot remember.
I tell myself fables about the bird that built a nest from all the scraps of her life before, even a soft feather that once was lost to a forgotten cage. How life had been long, but she remembered some things. The thickest sleeps. The rough-nosed kisses. The small poems. I tell myself her nest was soft and safe, and when she was very, very still, rest settled deep into her bones. So deep, she snored. Soft rawrs from her tiny beak that reached up into the sky and lullabied the moon.
And when she dreamed, everything she didn’t ever mean to forget was still there.
I close my eyes and wish myself fable, dream myself nested.
I fall asleep in hopes I might –(maybe / once again)– count sheep.
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