41 WINKS

A poem by Sammy Hutton addressing sleep and the soft spaces of time between wakefulness and slumber. Illustration by Anna Horvath.

Keep still.
The morning lies shapelessly in the future.
Imagine that time has stretched itself in front of you.
Notice sleep is still heavy on your skin, in your lungs.
Close your eyes, this room holds no mystery for you;
enduring walls, enduring air.
Focus on your finger tips; rich with thick cotton stitches.
Smooth your hands over a crisp landscape that rests faintly
on your skin, white sheets like paper snow.

Do not stir.
Do not stir an inch, there is nothing out there, I swear.
You can indulge this dilated time a little longer.
Relax your face and imagine that your skin sits as lightly on it
as the sheets lay across your body, as autonomous too.
The pillow case creases are still there,
you can feel them if you try,
woven into the surface like a ghost from a cotton lullaby.

Now, let those hungry hands comb in fistfuls of heavy cotton,
bring them up toward your face,
let the map of creases reunite with your skin,
white paper doll, fragile thing.
Open your mouth and let the weight seep in,
swallowing down behind feathery teeth.
Allow veracious lungs to inhale starched sheets, white pleats.
Don’t move and very soon you’ll sleep.

The day can wait for you.


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