Later, when I lived very differently,

I realized how alien waist-high living was to a Micronesian woman whose household life is spent on the floor.

Martha C. Ward, Nest in the Wind

Most of the time you get no real

choice about sleeping. Not when, or how

long, much less where. Catch authority’s

eye stretched celestial on the sidewalk

even languid on picnic-table beds at night

rest stop on the I 5 & trouble will snap

at your Achilles, make you limp the payne's gray

of whatever you call this obsession with walled-in

personal space, this societal core of slumbering civility.

They say: Stay at home for that. All those sleep

classes for the insomniac teach you tricks—

how to slip transparent, down past the din

of red ochre, eyelids

shut against street lights flaming—

 

but me, didn't work, got so tired my sensorium exploded—

seizure, sort-of—white noise, cauliflower ears battered, burnt

sienna static like a fist full of nettles—

drove up from the river road

done with trying for home, hurtled instead, rabid

like a thirst, like petroglyphed rocks swimming

dog-paddle circles under ultramarine,

grinding clouds into the brittle

rind of the late afternoon

 

parked back of the pull-out

turned off the engine, walked up rock

& just went down

 

nose to ancient red eagles and traveller

notifications written on stone, arms nibbled

by basalt crumbed out onto the pine

needled soil, slept without dreaming

rolled over on the pale green of lamb's quarter

the deeper shade of kinnikinnik—

woke after 10 hours, all the way through the dark and back

into the light, curled up the flattened horizon

of my spine to find coyote scat not far

from my feet and the car, engine cool

waiting for me to come to my senses

Originally published by Caliban Online, Issue #28

Published under the name A. Non.