Pantoum That Can’t Sleep ~ Beverly Burch


You have to enter sleep like water
without trying to swim.
It’s a skill, slipping below the line,
vanishing into the unseen.

Without trying to swim
leave desire, whatever is past,
vanish into the unseen—
ah, that’s what frightens you.

Leaving desire, releasing the past,
too much like dying.
Just thinking it frightens you—
impossible to lie still.

You turn, sigh, a little like dying,
close your eyes, whatever waits—
the easy impossible, you can’t lie still.
Night drops backwards, stark old cradle

enclosing the past. Whatever waits,
you’re unprotected, a newborn thing,
hushed, cradled, rocked back by night.
Sleep, it’s like nothingness—

unprotected as a newborn thing.
How a child slips in, crosses that line:
nothing to it, sweep of breath,
rush of water—you’re under.