Sleep Study

Because I snore at night and wake
chewing on a tongue of terror,
my doctor prescribed a sleep study.

Tonight, at the hospital,
a nurse binds me to a clinic bed
with sensors and wires and straps,
an electric kind of bondage —
I am tubed and surveilled,
expected to sleep soundly
in this antiseptic ghost of a bedroom,
where someone always listens
and someone always watches.

Two a.m., half-addled, I teeter
on consciousness, stumble-drunk,
one foot in the world and one in slumber.
Stare at the glass eye over my head
and wonder what all this paraphernalia
tells my nurse about me. What
can she read on her charts and monitors?

Can she see the yellow eyes
that have stalked through
my sleep since I was a child?

Can she see the name tags
fettered to my wet dreams?

When I wake, I’ll ask her
if she can draw me a map
through the architecture of sleep
to the fountain where
my poetry spills forth,

to the spring in the rock
and the steaming basin of words
where I drown every night;

every morning, I surface and gasp
for air, wring what drops of poetry
I can out of my beard and onto the page,
and, spent, forget my way back
until sleep seduces me again.

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