Somnesia: Insomnia at 4
poem by Veronica Noechel
Four a.m. is when the world falls apart
and puts itself back together slightly different than before.
Everything back in its place, but not. Skewed,
it leans just a little to one side or the other.
Four a.m. is when the night feels like it will go on
forever. It’s when you look at the clock and wonder
where the sun has gone. Surely the sky
should be less than purple. Where are the streaks
of robin’s egg blue betraying morning?
Four a.m. is the moment when time trips
and falls, stops altogether to recover its dignity
and brush the grit from its knees. It’s a tumble
down the ridge between coming and going.
It’s the same held breath moment as the time
you caught the tooth fairy crunching
baby teeth and swallowing. It’s when you saw
the Easter bunny struggling to expel mucosa
and colored eggs. Remember when
you watched the four a.m. Santa
whipping exhausted reindeer with one brutal
crack following the other, a glass of milk
in one hand, a river of white making its way through
his briar patch beard, pooling in the fur collar
he prepared in the dark days of autumn. He knows
what it’s like to scrape the lynx from her own skin. Flecks
of forgotten blood and sinew still cling
to the hearth, where the light of a constant
fire stands, even now, as a witness.
Four a.m. knows when it’s been seen and wants its due.
Dirty morning peep shows never come
free, even when you’re dragged inside
by house gremlins mimicking innocent dust bunnies.
They make a liar of you when the world wakes up
and all you have in your hands are grey boluses of
mites, dog hair, and what they say is skin flakes,
but you’ve always been skeptical when
there’s still so much of you left.
Four a.m. jingles change in its pocket and circles, suppressing
a laugh, a little pestilent drool escapes in its place.
It feeds you desperate, insomniate lies to keep you from leaving
though you want to, oh you want to, don’t you?
Held close by the persistent dark of four a.m. you lose
the simple, effortless slip that changes lying
still into letting go of one consciousness
and hooking up to another. You feel around, blind and frantic
for something so easy, turned impossible. Terrifying,
like forgetting how to breathe, or who you were before.
Four a.m. sells you mutilated clichés, and you believe them
because they repeat in a downward sucking spiral,
the physical shape of fear that grows longer with its whispers.
“Sleep is just like riding a bicycle backwards, little friend.
Once you forget how, you always will.”
About the writer
A genetically self-destructing spine keeps E. V. Noechel stranded on Couch Island, where she reads, loads her Etsy shop with her handmade collaged trinkets, and she writes. A lot. When on furlough to the rest of the house, she distributes mad snuggles to the rodents she fosters for Carolina Pet Rescue. Whether you’re looking to adopt a small animal or need a poem on the fly, she’s your girl. Her poems have been published extensively and received multiple awards and two nominations for the Pushcart Prize. Her fiction has earned grants from the North Carolina Arts Council and the United Arts Council. C.V., blog link, and writing samples can be found on her website. Her most recent book of poetry is available via Foothills Publishing of NY.
To see what she thinks of what she reads, visit her on Goodreads.