“Not Sleep” Published in Cagibi, a Literary Place

Since my sister died last month, I’ve been re-experiencing grief in different ways than when grief last visited.  Before, I was filled with sadness.  Now, I am experiencing sadness, but also regret and dread.  I think of what a cliche comparing depression to having a black cloud hanging over your head, but that image is strong with me now.

I am older now than when the others died so quickly, one after another after another, 15 years older.  And my sister and I had a complicated relationship. We were estranged for some years, as is common in families where the abusive parent tries to keep the siblings apart by telling lies about each other and sewing discord.  Nevertheless, my sister and I found ourselves to become much loved dear friends for most of our lives.  We were such different people, but we shared a long history of trauma and grief, but also humor, laughing, and a love of nature.  After my sister had her children, who are now in their 40s, we became dear friends.

Fifteen years ago I wrote more poetry than ever, as I converted grief into words.  I wrote about divorce, break ups,winter, sicknesses, illnesses, aging.  I had to warn my husband that divorce was code for grief, as I could not write about death then.

It was a time of great creativity, and looking back, I can feel that grief again–a purer type of grief, perhaps, since those lost then were never other than positive in my life, family and friends who shared only positive emotions in my life.

One of the poems I started writing back then, “Not Sleep,” I finished much later and have recently had published in Cagibi, a Literary Place.

NOT SLEEP PUBLISHED IN CAGIBI

 

I do like this poem, and could only write it many months after the death of my mother.  I could return to it then only years later.

I wonder how my sister’s death will affect my poetry writing.  I would give up writing poetry forever if I could have her alive again and healthy and happy, but that cannot happen.  Writing about her would be very difficult, for we had a complicated relationship.

I felt sorry for her.  I pitied her sometimes.  I had great sympathy for her suffering.  I loved her, and felt I understood many of the seemingly unfathomable things she did to drive others away.  I wasn’t married to her, was not raised by her–we had the relationship of peers who reacted to our shared traumas in very different ways.  I found her very brave.

I am still too raw to talk much about her or write much about her, since she has only been gone a month.  We are entering winter weather already here and it’s dark so much of the day.  All these, blended with a recent injury and job change have me a bit bewildered at times and needing to step back, check my thinking, and affirm this: although I sometimes feel great dread lately, that does not make things dreadful.  I need to question my automatic feelings and force myself to perceive, love, enjoy the many beauties in life.

My husband asked me the other day if I am feeling mortal; yes, I told him, that’s a great way to put it. No matter what, my sister is still dead.  No matter how many times I pick up the phone to call her, she’s still dead.  No matter how many times I think I want to tell her something, she is still dead.   No matter how many times I think of something that could have made her last months better, she is still dead.  No matter how angry or sad, outraged or fearful, she is still dead. No matter how much regret I feel for things I should have done or should have done differently with my sister, she is still dead.

Mortal, yes.  Feeling very mortal, which has also prompted me to clean closets, read books, write poetry again, sign up for a class.  If I feel I need to turn on ALL of the lights at home, I do so.  If I want pumpkin pancakes, I get them.  I am pushing myself to exercise more, for I know good health is so important to loving life.  I am resisting the urge to get another job, because I have recognized that long term, this gift of time off is a precious gift.

What will I do with my life?  It’s exciting yet scary to imagine! Sometimes I envision myself staying in bed, jaws clenched, covers pulled over my head, in some dramatic made for TV movie of the week about death and depression.  Other times I think–April will come again, chorus frogs will return, I’ll get that storage room cleaned out, I’ll read another great novel, I will make new friends and develop new skills and wonder.

*   *   *

 

Thanks for reading.  Interesting how I can be succinct when writing poetry, such as “Not Sleep,” while I am so wordy with prose.

“Not Sleep,” a Poem, Published in Cagibi Literary Journal

My poem, “Not Sleep,” was published in Cagibi, a Literary Space last summer.  I didn’t realize, since I am rather new to publishing, that I could promote published works. So I am now.

I should try writing a happy or humorous poem, perhaps.  I am a joyful person often, but write to help understand life and especially losses.  So I don’t write that many happy poems. I do write humor fiction and nonfiction, however.

As to this poem, I wanted to honor and show respect for long term relationships. I hope I have done so here.

Thanks for reading!

Laura

 

NOT SLEEP

A face in the window
listening to the high pitch of crickets,
low tones of frogs.
Fireflies blink and I think
I should sleep
but Venus has risen
and the silence of navy skies calls.

I hear your deep cough
know you have
put pillow to mouth.
I check forehead
bring cool cloths and water.
You kiss my hand
tell me you are fine, tell me
go back to the night.

I stay
awake, alone
listening.

Hours later
delight at the open window:
robins’ morning song.

You arise, sit next to me
try to stop shivering
as we remember winter
when this window was ice-locked.

Listen,
you whisper between coughs,
It’s lovely.

We wait together
to start our day,
tiptoe breathing.

Laura Lee is a Chicago area poet, college student mentor and instructor, literacy tutor, and writer. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been published in print and online journals in the US, the UK, New Zealand, Greece, and India. Literacy in all its forms is her passion. For a complete list of publications, visit her website at: http://lauraleewriterpoeteducator.com. Follow Laura Lee on Twitter @LauraLe97942016.

Publications, Updated

pexels-photo-997721 Publications, Laura Lee

Some of my poems, short stories, and nonfiction articles are included online and in print books and magazines published in the UK, Greece, India, New Zealand, and the United States. Many thanks to the staff at these publications. 

“The Professor and the Gravel,” a poem, at Wingless Dreamer.

“Not Sleep,” a poem, in Cagibi: A Literary Space, forthcoming in April 2019 at Cagibi a Literary Space.

“Saltwater Faces,” an ekphrastic poem inspired by paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago, High Shelf Press, 2018, https://www.highshelfpress.com/saltwaterfaces.

“Click,” “The Night is our First Language,” and “They Left the Bed,” poetry published in The Poetic Bond VIII print issue, December 2018. Available at Poetic Bond VIII.

“Moving Gravel” a short story at Crack the Spine – Themed Anthology Submissions, “Routine”, print edition, 2018. Available at Crack the Spine Anthology.

“Walk with Child” at https://www.snapdragonjournal.com/  September 2018 Issue, “Here and Gone.” http://pub.lucidpress.com/9b90935e-82ec-4edd-a09e-725a9cf574b8/#Vu72fBijlewR

Coffin Bell Journal,2018, “Herstory,” October 2018. https://coffinbell.com/herstory-lesson/

Spillwords Press, “Stopped,” 2018, http://spillwords.com/stopped/.

Tuck Magazine, June 2018, “Teach to Kill” http://tuckmagazine.com/2018/06/06/poetry-1528/.

Tuck Magazine,  May 2018, “Refuge,” http://tuckmagazine.com/2018/05/29/poetry-1511/.

 Southernmost Point Guest House (UK), poetry.

Journal of Modern Poetry 21 (Volume 21), “Hell, No,” a poem at JOMP Volume 21 Dear Mr. President.

Journal of Modern Poetry 20 (Volume 20), “Moonlit Awakening,” JOMP Volume 20 Poetry Writer’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Journal of Modern Poetry 18 (Volume 18), The Official Poets Guide to Peace, two poems: “Open” and “After Poetry Class.” 2015. Purchase here.

Journal of Modern Poetry 17 (Volume 17), JOMP Volume 17. 

Cram Volume 12: “White Board Clown,” 2011. Chicago Poetry Press 2011.

Magazine (New Zealand) , Raewyn Alexander, Publisher, nonfiction and poetry.  Raewyn Alexander NZ.

Fiction in: http://staxtes.com/2003/ “Between the Sunlight and the Skipping” in English Wednesdays

Poetry in: https://poetsagainstthewar.org/ archives.

Illinois English Bulletin, a publication of the National Council of Teachers of English, nonfiction article about teaching in an alternative education program.

 Poetry in Marginalia, Elmhurst, IL.