Reverse Aubade

He usually sleeps through my nightmares

I wake up kicking at nothing, tangled

in the sheets after battling against

something I’ve already forgotten.  Sorry,

I whisper, holding my breath until

I hear the soft, throaty sigh that means

he’s still asleep.  My eyes won’t close—

or rather, stay closed—for hours after

as I try to bore myself to unconsciousness:

counting by fours, reciting every third letter

in the alphabet, naming each teacher I’ve had

in reverse chronological order.  Silently,

of course.  He’s slept through earthquakes,

snoring quietly on his side, facing the middle

of the bed, but I still don’t risk disturbing him,

ruining his day before it starts.  Inches from

his side of the bed, I’m aching to do something

or fall asleep.  The ceiling hasn’t changed

since my eyes adjusted to the dark.  When

sunrise begins to tint the curtains,

I cover my face with a pillow, wanting

to groan over another restless night.

I never stay asleep at his place.

He lifts the pillow and peeks at me,

grinning and drowsy.  I apologize

and don’t know why.  He breathes

a word I can’t understand, moving

his head to my pillow as he bends

his body along mine, his pulse

setting a slower beat for mine to

match and drift to sleep with.

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