All You Who Sleep Tonight


1 year ago this weekend, I had triple bypass surgery. It’s been a very difficult year save for the brightness of my marriage to my husband, John, last summer and the continuing love he brings. I wrote a cycle of poems that I thought I was finished with, which I presented at the Rainier Valley Lit Crawl a couple of weeks ago. Things happened to me again, which prompted the start of this poem on Friday, March 18th, the exact date of the bypass surgery. Without going into a lot of detail, I finished this poem today, heaviness lifted, and life continuing on.

I hope you’ll enjoy the poem. I’m doing just fine. It’s for John and all of you.


All You Who Sleep Tonight


Neon moss has inched up the tree’s trunk

from so much biblical rain. An indication of

how this year unfolded. Beauty is found in touch –

spongy, moist follicles envelope fingers intent on

everything alive. If I dug in farther, arm and body

disappearing into green, I might hibernate ‘til spring,

emerging from my cocoon, arms spread, patterns

of photographs, intersecting memories, peopled

by all of you, you who belong to me,

both good and bad, ingrained in corpuscles

mapping my existence. The musicality of

dripping water, coursing through this carpet,

over light infused waves, I could follow

like notes from an oboe, each measure

I cascade down until I break free from

the hollowed out tree of me.


I try these wings; heat warms them

as light filters through stained glass.

Is that you who waited for me –

the one I wrap myself around each night?

Or the one I refuse to let go, she whose

presence alters dreams. And what do I do

with a life of never-ending negatives:

a bad heart, a bad pancreas, opportunities stripped away.

I’ve thought of giving up, casually forgetting

the pills I have to take, letting my heart

fail slowly, an old engine missing its spark.


No one would know. It would be as

a leaf in autumn, robbed of its life-force

falling away under cover of night. Inconsequential.

If I were that tree, moss enveloping it,

and if a big wind toppled it, small insects, and

organisms must begin to burrow into its striated bark.

It is a law of nature to begin again, nursing those in need.

At my deepest low, I woke, sipped coffee with my husband,

watched the sun’s rise – pinks, oranges, blue and light –

all clichés stripped away because if I did not have his love,

I’d be that leaf, falling, a slight wind’s breath

before it’s enveloped by earth, tremors only all of you,

all you who sleep tonight, will feel when you wake.

With acknowledgement to Vikram Seth for the title and line, “All You Who Sleep Tonight.”


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