Trying to sink myself




My bed is a deep pool; my day is a boat.


From morning to night, I row across the hours until my shoulders ache. I want to throw myself overboard and sink into the depths of sleep.


I enter the pool, lying atop its surface, snuggling into the down comforter, and nuzzling the pillow. If I can sink into those waters, I can replenish myself.


I turn off all the lights in the room, but my brain refuses to turn out the little lamp in the corner where it keeps my files. It busies itself, quietly at first, but I cannot sleep if there are any lights on.


From that corner of my mind, I hear the rustling of the papers. Every time I feel myself sinking, my brain burps or starts talking. The words make me buoyant.


I lie on my back, roll to the left, need to scratch my foot, and then shift to my right side. What do I do with my right arm? I can’t rest lying on top of it. I put it out straight, then under the pillow, and finally across the top of my body. My hand is near my neck, and I feel like I’m choking myself.


Then I notice that my knee bones are pressing one another, so I pull one knee higher. If there were a camera on the ceiling, I would look like I’m running. I hope there isn’t a camera. My brain starts telling me a story of hidden cameras. I pull the covers over my head and try not to listen.


I rearrange my limbs in an effort to relax. I’ve thrown my body overboard, hoping to float down into the deep waters of sleep, but my mind clings tenaciously to the side of the boat. It makes my limbs thrash. Let me go, I beg.


But my brain wants to talk about what the boss said yesterday, the phone call I need to make, and the dumb thing I said to my coworker. My brain wants me to get back on that boat. When will it shut up? The body is willing, but the brain is not.


I roll onto my back and visualize myself as a stone, sinking into the mattress and pillow. I relax each part of my body, starting with my head and scalp. My face goes slack; shoulders release their tension. I continue until my toes separate, each one loose and mellow. One by one the fingers of my mind let go of the boat. My body floats atop the sea, dips beneath the surface, ever so slowly sinking down.


Then my husband opens the bedroom door, and the hall nightlight throws my brain a life preserver.


River bed