I got up this morning but my shadow stayed in bed. I walked through the sunshine in the front room, turned on the bathroom light – nothing.
Where was she? (I think of her as she.) I lifted the duvet but there was nobody there – just a deep indentation where I had slept alone.
She had to be somewhere – I think I may have said out loud. I turned all the lights out and felt that she was there. I turned them on again.
I closed my eyes and that worked too. I could feel her there, the warm darkness of trust. I kept my eyes tight shut and got back into bed.
There would be another morning, there would be some other light.
Last night I dreamed I did not sleep. I lay awake, eyes blinking, thoughts racing, chest tight. And then I dreamt I woke.
Don’t gently touch my hair while I am sleeping. Please don’t blow sweet kisses on the hairline of my neck. You don’t sleep here any more now, do you? No. I feel the draught from the summer-open window. Please don’t breathe the words I cannot hear.
Daybreak makes my day;
the lowering of the winter evening brings a soft end to the struggle.
Then dreams until they are broken.
I slept heavily last night.
When I woke I did not know where I was or
who I was or
why I was
A last whisper, last touch, as clear eyes close;
soft story dreams leading.
Later, the tingle below the skin wakes the morning and limbs
and then, in the sunrise, the words.
Stroke; stroke, stroke. Wriggle of shoulders, wiggle of toes.
Small tight grin, head under the bedclothes.
Toes stretched out. Stroke stroke itch.
Sole and top of foot and now the ankle too. Feather stroke.
Toes flex and stretch. Itch, smile.
Up the calf, feather light, behind the knee. Moving up and slowly slowly up.
Pull bedclothes close to face to hide the closed eyes smiling.
Pretend to be asleep.
Ari opened her eyes wide when her boyfriend screamed.
She opened her eyes wide and saw him standing by the door.
Not lying in bed behind her.
Not touching her ankle, not stroking her thigh, not moving up, up.
She twisted, half sat, and saw some of the spiders.
Steve the sheep couldn’t sleep. He’d tried counting people. Nothing.
Still wide awake.
Steve the sheep.
I experiment on you when you are sleeping. Gently I squeeze your earlobe. Your breath does not speed or falter. Rise. Fall.
Finger-soft I stroke the almost hair on the nape of your neck. Your shoulders twitch and settle. Relax now.
My hand rests on the curve of your stomach. Slowly I reach through your skin and up, behind your ribs. My fingers find your soul and, softly again, I fold over a silver corner. The edges blacken and stick. You will never know why you feel tarnished on days the sun shines.