Poem: Variations on the Word 'Sleep'

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

— Margaret Atwood

Unnoticed and necessary. Yeah.
And as if scolding me for my little pity party below about not being “successful” or “important” in the worldly sense, God sends me this little poem today.

Unnoticed and necessary, like the breath that animates one you love. Should I ever be that blessedly simple!

And then I remember my Merton, my Nouwen, and my rebellious little ego feels chastened. It is not my Life Choices that make me unhappy, but my undue desire for importance and admiration that does so. I don’t mind being necessary at all. It’s the unnoticed part that I have a hard time choking down sometimes. More fodder for prayer.

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