According to a Stanford University study, only 3%
of the U.S. population continues sleepwalking into adulthood.
Last night I woke, startled—
thought he was lost: milk-starved
and terrified. New in my mothering
and skittish, I looked everywhere:
underneath couch cushions,
between chair and wall, in the bathtub.
My heart beat, fox-wild—
desperate for him.
My hands gathered a cataract
of worry, bone deep.
As a girl, I often woke caught
between wall and bookcase,
believing in a doorway. Or, I
would wake in cool darkness,
hands pressed against the cement
floor of the basement. Or,
my head would knock against the case
of my mother’s guitar,
waking under her hanging clothes;
the smell of her sweet.
No one knows what causes sleep
walking. We have approximations,
dark matter in the brain. Here, imagine
Reichenbach: severe and curious,
measuring electromagnetic pulses
of young women belted
down, sleeping. Or
Freud, speculating a sleepwalker
wanted to rest where
they did in childhood, our
impulses expressed through movement
in landscape. We imagine
their furrow, their bit lip,
at our impossibility.
Before he arrived I worried
I wouldn’t know how to love
him, his existence an impossible
Bone of my bone and I
only ever dreamt of him once:
born fully clothed, his skin like roses,
copper headed, birthed
into a porcelain tub. In the dream
I touched his forehead, pelvis,
foot, before waking. My belly
a bright moon.
I still rise, sleep-drunk,
to prepare for arrivals,
pulling linens from the closet,
drawing a bath, waiting.
I am often called back to bed,
the dark like a coat,
my beloved’s hands warm,
truer than any conjure.
Sleep has always been how we measure
distance traveled, but don’t forget
the lost child: a mother frantic,
her fear an ocean.
How she will wake in the weeks
after his birth afraid he is drowning,
pulling blankets from the bed,
gathering a tempest before it breaks:
gold relief, her son asleep
in his bed, only an arm’s reach away.