States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Sleep' by Kate Llewellyn


To enter the bed we kneel
And fall into the white abyss.
Sleep is a form of fainting
The altar of the pillows swirls with wisps
Of fading consciousness – a priest
Comes down the aisle flicking dreams out
From an ancient ewer.


Watch a sleeping man
Even then they still seem awesome
To me with an air of tragedy
Like a fallen horse.
His conversation with the night
Is not the same as mine,
Our personalities are the sheets
On which we sleep
And no amount of washing
Wears them out.


Soft snores from sleeping children
The flicker of a limb –
Their depth of sleep – entranced, they seem
To travel sucking their thumbs
In the carriage of the cot
Across the ruts of history.


A ward of sleeping women
Is a peaceful boat
Jaws unleashed like brassieres,
They lie trusting on the deck.
Their devoted illnesses sleep beside them
Only the doctors' notes clipped like love letters
To the bed
Reveal the destination of each affair.


Kate Llewellyn

Kate Llewellyn

Kate Llewellyn

Kate Llewellyn is the author of twenty-four books comprising eight of poetry, five of travel, journals, memoirs, letters and essays. She is the co-editor of The Penguin Book of Australian Women Poets and is the author of the bestseller The Waterlily: A Blue Mountains Journal. Her most recent books are A Fig at the Gate, a book of nature writing and poems, published by Allen & Unwin, and First Things First, a book of her letters edited by Dr Ruth Bacchus and Dr Barbara Hill, published by Wakefield Press.