By Dr. Jennifer A McGowan
Sleep has flown south
ahead of the hobbies
and with just as strong instinct
though you live far north
of any wintering place
and will stare eyes open, still,
as the light gets less
and your brain refuses
to let go of her again
and the last shrieks of the swifts
are the key to sleep’s garden and
Six hundred times I’ve blinked and tried
to stay there. Six hundred not-mornings in return.
Forty-eight hours Without caffeine, not even
my meagre daily allowance. I have sludged through
the afternoon with friends, trying to edit; instead, scratching
skin off face and hands, unaware. The bottom’s fallen out
of my brain and it’s down-shifted all the way down
to NO. Transmission error. Forty-eight hours
and I haven’t slept until dawn crept in, apology
and benison. I limp to bed.
Dark falls. Instantly, I’m more awake.
I fight into the spare room, riffle the shelves.
Take out a stack of five or six books.
It’s a long, wet haul till morning.
I will read your poetry until morning.
There are worse fates.
I’M SORRY THIS POEM IS LATE BUT I’VE HAD COVID 19
for the past six months. Mildly,
which is bad enough. All of
the symptoms sequentially:
hand pain, headaches, loss of taste,
gastric attacks, dizziness, weakness—
everyone knows them now.
There were scary days,
days I’d stand up and fall
straight back down, days
the world felt furry because my lungs
felt furry and incorrectly buttressed
Sometimes I remember to eat
even without appetite though
the new sense of taste prefers
sweet things. But I cook healthy meals
then let them go off in the fridge
because brain fog blurs them
into two weeks ago.
Anyway, yes. So this is late.
By the way, it mixes
really fucking badly
Just so you know.