March 28, 2007

Siren Song

Francesco Clemente's "Journey"


Siren Song

You need more sleep.
Today as you drove
your too-big-for-you car
to your small-for-you house
I had a gift for you.
The thrum of tires
and the warm spring sun...
I tried. But you refused.

So now, eating your rice,
you are too weary to enjoy it.
Too busy. But there is
such sweetness in the long descent
into sleep, such luxury!
Tonight I lie here remembering
the smell of just-cut limes
and the way sea turtles seem to smile.

You are still cleaning, working.
I lie in wait for you,
softly singing the old songs,
humming through forgotten verses.
Now you come upstairs,
undress and slip into bed,
propped up
on one elbow
reading this poem.


Only when you stop –
almost done now,
hear the slow surf of heartbeats
crashing in your ear? –

will I sleep,
my head on a pillow of sky.
So come, busy stranger, sleep.
Set no alarm.

(Thank you to the women of Poetry Thursday
for their continuing inspiration.
I have been fortunate enough to see two exhibits of
Francesco Clemente's work, and its staying power
in my heart has also been an inspiration to me.)

14 comments:

Ron said...

Lovely poem. So well crafted. So many great lines. My favorite: 'the slow surf of heartbeats crashing in your ear...'
This is the first I've read this morning. What a great way to start the day.

Brian said...

There is no greater craving than sleep. I too, cannot sleep until my love is beside me. Her breath and heartbeat are a constant in my life.

Wonderful poem with so many smiles.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Very lovely, especially the 'slow surf of heartbeats'....

Regina Clare Jane said...

Oh, I loved this, Shelley- and the picture was perfect! "My head on a pillow of sky..." ah...

Shelley said...

Thank you, friends, for your kind comments...

Brian, I was envisioning the figure in Clemente's piece as a kind of spirit manifestation, a siren of sleep (hints of death, even?), rather than a lover... but whatever works for you!

Kamsin said...

I kind of took it to be sleep herself who beckons you to join her in the business of life. Lovely poem. And a lovely painting to have built it around.

kathryn said...

I like this, it has a wooing sense to it. Sleep as a lover we often ignore.

Kimberley McGill said...

I think you captured the essence of a siren's song - a beautiful piece - quite seductive in its own way.

Colorful Prose said...

This read so smoothly, with little surpises popping out. Very creative.

get zapped said...

I really enjoyed this. The journey to sleep and imagery moved me very much. Nice work!

Pauline said...

Oh, I did like this! It's sad and calming and hopeful all at once. The rhythm is just right all the way through and Iove the ending.

gautami tripathy said...

"Tonight I lie here remembering
the smell of just-cut limes
and the way sea turtles seem to smile."

I too could smell the limes and the sea...

gautami
Meditating for being one with you

...deb said...

Great response to a fine painting. I just may bookmark this to read when I have insomnia and need to be coaxed to sleep. I really liked the voice of sleep--the siren--calling all day long, especially the inappropriate times: driving! The imagery was terrific.

Marcia said...

"hear the slow surf of heartbeats
crashing in your ear?" Such a peaceful way of expressing it.