First Witness

In June 2014, as part of the module ‘Teaching Languages in Multilingual Contexts’ (Goldsmiths University) I attended a session called ‘Creativity in the Language Classroom’. After an initial discussion about what it meant to be creative, we briefly talked about a possible link between insomnia and creativity. Brilliant, I thought, as I’ve been an insomniac since my teenage years. So, my thought process continued, if I’m an insomniac I’m creative, right? … But before I started spending too much time reflecting on past creative achievements – I mostly came up with examples of creating ‘interesting’ but sometimes also surprisingly wonderful dishes in the kitchen – I decided to best leave it right there and concentrate again on the session. Coincidently, more or less around the same time, I came across Martina Evans‘s witty poem The Shop, which describes the longing for a small drop of sleep by a ‘thirsty‘ sleep deprived mother. Since then,  whenever I find myself waking up, usually at 2 or 3 o’clock, I think back of the creativity session and Evans’s poem. So, here’s my little creation to pay homage to my many sleepless nights – past, present and future.

 

First Witnessthree o clock

 

I know the time well before my eyes open

to glance at the two burning dials

staring back at me

with mockery

at 3 o’clock on the dot.  

 

As if for the first time I start to ponder

Where are you, god of dreams?

Why do you let me toss and turn  

instead of lying still like others do?

Why do you keep my sleep so brief?

Please listen, there’s no need for such economy!  

 

Abandoned and forgotten by Morpheus

I begin my restless routine:

First, I welcome those buzzing bees that

signal another busy night in the lead

and then the sound of the seven seas, that

foretell my lengthy journey ahead.  

 

Noises of waves breaking and bees humming

accompany the voices in my mind, which,

at its most active and dramatic,

keeps busy digesting

events I wish to forget and stages

imaginary situations

with clever conversations and

I cannot wait to applaud

their and-they-lived-happily-ever-after creations,  

because with an endless space to fill

I sense as my only defense

illusions

that give me pleasure when they unfetter

events held captive in various grounds that

need to be covered, before

I think of stealing a drop from the sacred bottle

stocked somewhere in a visionary shop*.  

 

When morning draws closer

I watch all that keeps me awake

riding  the  horses on a fast spinning

carousel and I sigh,

O what bliss! when I feel your cool finger

press lightly the invisible switch

on my hot forehead

to stop the Almighty.

 

And then, when I lie motionless,

I enjoy being the first witness

of the early bird’s symphony,

of the first plane pass over Beckenham,

of the first car start up in my street,

of my neighbour’s alarm at 5.30 and

of his front door slam at 6.45.  

 

It is then when tiredness

rigorously knocks

requesting permission to enter.  

 

O Insomnia, my ally, my companion!

You’re my visitor – I’m your host,

waiting for your call

I’m ready to listen

to the stories of my endless

wandering

mind.

 

*this line was inspired by the poem The Shop by Evans, M. (1998), All Alcoholics are Charmers, London: Anvil Press

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