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Sunday, 4 A.M.

Dreamed c. 1960 by Elizabeth Bishop

An endless and flooded
dreamland, lying low,
cross- and wheel-studded
like a tick-tack-toe.

At the right, ancillary,
'Mary" 's close and blue.
Which Mary? Aunt Mary?
Tall Mary Stearns I knew?

The old kitchen knife box,
full of rusty nails,
is at the left. A high vox
somewhere wails:

The gray horse needs shoeing!
It's always the same!
What are you doing,
there, beyond the frame?

If you're the donor,
you might do that much!

Turn on the light. Turn over.
On the bed a smutch--

black-and-gold gesso
on the altered cloth.
The cat jumps to the window;
in his mouth's a moth.

Dream dream confronting,
now the cupboard's bare.
The cat's gone a-hunting.
The brook feels for the stair.

The world seldom changes,
but the wet foot dangles
until a bird arranges
two notes at right angles.


Good luck figuring out which bits are insomnia and which are Bishop dreaming of insomnia...

SOURCE: Questions of Travel, 1965

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: hypnogogic dreams - Gilbert & Sullivan's hymn to half-insomnia, The Lord Chancelor's Nightmare - Wayan dreams of insomnia all night as a punishment for overwork: Sleepers All - dream-poems - more by Elizabeth Bishop: The Weed

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