Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Insomnia: Awake at 1 a.m.

by Billy Collins

Even though the house is deeply silent

and the room, with no moon,

is perfectly dark,

even though the body is a sack of exhaustion

inert on the bed,

someone inside me will not

get off his tricycle,

will not stop tracing the same tight circle

on the same green threadbare carpet.

It makes no difference whether I lie

staring at the ceiling

or pace the living room floor,

he keeps on making his furious rounds,

little pedaler in his frenzy,

my own worst enemy, my oldest friend.

What is there to do but close my eyes

and watch him circling the night,

schoolboy in an ill-fitting jacket,

leaning forward, his cap on backwards,

wringing the handlebars,

maintaining a certain speed?

Does anything exist at this hour

in this nest of dark rooms

but the spectacle of him

and the hope that before dawn

I can lift out some curious detail

that will carry me off to sleep-

the watch that encircles his pale wrist,

the expandable band,

the tiny hands that keep pointing this way and that.

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