I would like for you to spend the night with me…


Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep.

That’s not working. I roll onto my other side and try again. But I hear voices. Not the frightening kind; Familiar ones. My father waking me in the mornings that summer I was eleven and stayed with him. “The sun’s up. You should be too.” (Sun? Barely. It was dawn.) I hear the voices of others I love and they sound comforting but they don’t put me to sleep. I hear the familiar question of a friend “Don’t you EVER sleep?” and I can’t.

I have to sleep. It’s two. If I don’t sleep now I’ll be tired tomorrow. Or today. Whichever. Sometimes they’re like one long continuous day with little catnaps in the dark. I flip onto my back. Try my old trick of relaxing my body one part at a time. When I was fourteen or so I read about etheric projection. A way to be in two places at once? Who wouldn’t want that? The author, clearly a man with too much time on his hands, outlined techniques for separating the etheric from the physical body. I don’t remember where I thought I wanted to go with my etheric self but I do remember lying flat on my back, perfectly still, and “sensing” each part of my body starting with my toes and working my way up. Toes. I have toes. I sense my toes. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten pink little piggies. Toes, toes, toes. No, I never made it the whole way. I was usually asleep by the time I got to my knees. Probably a good thing because I was a little afraid of the possibility of death by etheric/physical separation (though it would make for an interesting obituary) and a little afraid my mother would catch me having out-of-body experiences. But instead of falling asleep cataloguing my parts, now I’m remembering my teenage curiosity and susceptibility to everything I read.

Try again. I often sing my children to sleep. As babies they each had a favorite lullaby that mesmerized them. The littlest one’s is Hush Little Baby. I sing a feminist version where it’s the mama that does all the buying. Because I’m the mama. I sing it to myself now in my head. What I hear instead is her softly snoring in the other room. She has a cold. I should check on her. I hear a car go by and I remember the first night I spent in this house. I couldn’t sleep (imagine that) for the sound of the traffic on the road. Not traffic like on a major highway. Just a tractor trailer every half hour or so. And not the road we live on, but the main road nearby. The place we’d left was that quiet. I try to think of another lullaby and hear instead another noise. The refrigerator? Why is it so loud? Is that the ice-maker? Did I leave the ceiling fan on? It’s a weird mechanical whirring…

Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Shelby Lynne is singing in my head:


Sleep. Come on in.
I would like for you to spend the night with me.
Sleep. Where you been?
I have surely missed you since you’ve been gone…

Sleep. Say my prayers.
Asking for a place that looks like all the nighttime fantasies.
Sleep. Are you here?
Are you real and am I snuggling down tonight?


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