There comes a point in the night when you just give up (speaking for myself, of course). Your tricks and techniques for getting back to sleep have failed.

What’s next? Acceptance.

For me, that looks like turning on the lamp beside the bed and picking up a book.

On a recent night, the poet A.E. Stallings kept me company…

Another Lullaby for Insomniacs

Sleep, she will not linger:
She turns her moon-cold shoulder
With no ring on her finger,
You cannot hope to hold her.

She turns her moon-cold shoulder
And tosses off the cover.
You cannot hope to hold her:
She has another lover.

She tosses off the cover
And lays the darkness bare.
She has another lover,
Her heart is otherwhere.

She lays the darkness bare.
You slowly realize
Her heart is otherwhere.
There’s distance in her eyes.

You slowly realize
That she will never linger,
With distance in her eyes
And no ring on her finger.


Well, here are a couple more of Stallings’ poems, while we’re up. They’re from her stunning new collection, This Afterlife.


Lovejoy Street

The house where we were happy,
Perhaps it’s standing still
On the wrong side of the railroad tracks
Half-way down the hill.

Perhaps new people live there
Who think the street name quaint,
And watch the dogwood petals shiver
Down like flakes of paint.

Perhaps they hold each other
When the train goes railing by,
Shaking up the windowpanes
And dressing down the sky.

And perhaps it strikes them rich
When spring is making shift,
To find the bank in blooming pink
Where we had painted thrift.

Perhaps they reap our roses
In an antique jelly jar.
And maybe they are happy there,
And do not know they are.


The Tantrum

Struck with grief you were, though only four,
The day your mother cut her mermaid hair
And stood, a stranger, smiling at the door.

They frowned, tsk-tasked your willful, cruel despair,
When you slunk beneath the long piano strings
And sobbed until your lungs hiccuped for air.

Unbribable with curses, cake, playthings.
You mourned a mother now herself no more,
But brave and fashionable. The golden rings

That fringed her naked neck, whom were they for?
Not you, but for the world, now in your place,
A full eclipse. You wept down on the floor;

She wept up in her room. They told you this:
That she could grow it back, and just as long,
They told you, lying always about loss,

For you know she never did. And they were wrong.


Maybe it’s time to turn off the light now. And turn on The Seal Lullaby, which sometimes works for grown-ups too.



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