Blessed is the man who invented sleep, says Sancho Panza.
Blessed is the man who knows how to sleep, says I.
I sometimes dream of writing a poem in honor
of all the great and good sleepers of the world.
We would gather once a year in a fantastic snoozing hall,
with a specially-built sound-proof room for the snorers among us,
an assortment of hammocks and tempur-pedics for all styles,
and an all-you-can-eat buffet of turkey, stuffing, and warm milk.
Dogs would merit much discussion, babies too,
and of course the hibernating bears in the basement below.
But after lulling everyone into their mid-afternoon naps,
I’d wander off quietly toward the deep, unchartered waters of my own sleep.
Careful not to wake the whales
recovering from their drunken moonlight dance,
I wade in with a smile, the gentle ripples of the ocean
cleansing my spirit, preparing me for the great road ahead.
Refreshed, I hike along the curved ridge of my ear,
stopping for a picnic on an outer lobe,
patiently awaiting the “all clear” signal on my radio.
A quick slide down the slippery canal and I’m in.
Feeling the fuzzy contours for a light switch,
I tiptoe cautiously across a mind bridge,
neurons firing their warning shots,
wary of intrusion, anxious for connection.
An infinite wall rises up before me,
tall with unknown words, spelling out
tightness and torture in its dark shadows.
I poke and probe, seeking out the magic code.
A crack of lightning and Rilke appears,
a curious question mark on the horizon,
his locked room full of books looming
large in the labyrinth of clouds above.
I whisper softly, “It’s me.”
He rumbles, “Do not now seek the answers.
The point is to live everything.
Especially your dreams.”
His words tumbling down in sweetness
like trumpets blaring Ode to Joy
in a German that was English.
I am sure that even Beethoven heard it.
His giant laugh explodes into a rainbow flare,
shining the way toward a secluded land of rivers and snows.
I float in a delicate rain, climb down into the trees,
sink into the ground, and swing on the roots of my heritage.
I’m nowhere again, inside myself.
One naked, swaying being, seeing the world for the first time.
The strange grooves on my skin the only proof of my journey,
their sandy footprints washing away with each breath.
It is said that on those sleep-induced marks are written
the eternal signs and mysteries of being,
a complete theory of the heavens and the earth,
a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth.
The smooth sunrise wakens me from my drooling slumber,
and I turn to the golden beauty resting next to me.
Tell me, are you the fair rare one who lives to uncover the secrets of the body?
Will you join me in gently tracing the lines of life to the holy temple inside?