Why aren’t we more terrified of sleep,
of consciousness extinguished and no
guarantee of return?
– Dean Young
You’d think that after all these years
of dropping dead every night and every morning
rolling back the stone, of rising from my vampire’s crypt,
a forest of tooth picks sprouting from my chest,
I’d have some faith, some trust that just like
the sun coming up in the east I’d lift
from my cluttered bed, my rumpled, sweatsoaked
sheets and pillow. Don’t I believe
in physics? What about bio-chemistry? But no.
After five hundred lives, the memory
of so many deaths darkens everything.
Every day the ceiling gets lower,
clouds rumbling with comets and jets.
And what do they tell you for comfort?
Think about the after-life, they say.
But that’s all I think about. Or
Forget about it, they say, it’s a long way off.
But how can I forget, when even in sleep
I have to listen to that raving madman
(myself!) shouting out the mystery of birth,
my constant mistakes. How many dark alleys
have you wandered in your dreams, how many
monsters met and been devoured by?
I’m telling you. If I could say goodbye to it all,
become an angel, one of those who never said no
to anyone but himself, one of the luminous
singing host who never traveled in darkness,
I’d take up my wings and sweep
the closets and corners of my past
with a mighty shiver and flap, blowing
it all away as I rose into a glory like the sun.