I sleep still as an effigy
flat on my back, hands across my torso,
my body a peaceful foil for arduous dreams.
Don’t wish me sweet dreams; I’ll only fail.
Place me on a slab recumbent atop a bronze tomb
in an English abbey and let the tourists file by.
Westminster preferred, or Gloucester, I have ambitions.
Lay me down with the kings and queens of the land,
not the holy company of saints and angels,
and except for the necessary breaths, dreaming eyelids
and pinkish skin, and I suppose the plaid pajamas,
I’d be a pretty convincing figure
as a marble stand-in for the dead—though I hope
they’d remark in respectful voices, “How lifelike.
It almost looks like she’s just fallen asleep.”
They wouldn’t know this is one of my dreams.
Come daytime, I lie on a polished stone bench
in the Chinese Garden, as practice.
But you, you toss and you turn on the bed,
heaving yourself to left and right,
throwing the blankets off and back on,
taking my covers with you as you roll,
roiling the sheets, dropping pillows to the floor,
it’s a funfair to lie beside you, or could be,
were I there and not at the abbey,
your heavy bones seeking comfort,
not a body at rest,
you who say your dreams are always sweet,
such an optimist,
a nicer person than I, wanting to reach out
to my sleeping form for a cuddle, a hand
to hold, a pat, but there I lie, statuary,
oblivious to the night,
to you and the thrashing beside me,
I lie contained, preparing myself
for the end.