We Are All in Fear of Falling Asleep

We are all in fear of falling asleep,

of losing our grip on the ledge of wakefulness

and falling fast into unconscious dark,

into a temporary death.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep

 

It happened to Matt on his way to the restaurant,

and he was late for his shift—three days late,

his tables unwaited.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep

 

It happened to Lynne on the way to the church;

by the time she reached the altar, her bride

had left her, the cake gone stale.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep

 

It happened to Aaron at the tattoo shop,

leaving his client with a three-pointed star,

and a pool of ink on the floor.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep

 

It happened to Lizzie watching a movie at home;

she missed the ending and left her cats

to feed themselves.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep

 

It happened to Ravi at the drafting table,

lines gone astray, figures unfinished,

engineering specs left incomplete.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep

 

It happened to Mitchell in the greenhouse,

dropping his tools and falling among them,

the plants’ cultivation neglected for weeks.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep

 

It happened to Taylor, out on a first date

with a new boyfriend. Only one kiss and then he went

before anyone came.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep

 

It has happened to commuters on car-packed streets,

to workers in factories making gadgets,

to priests in the middle of saying Mass,

to stock-market traders while making deals,

and to thousands of students attending lectures.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep,

abridging our lives by hours, by days, by weeks,

losing our places in the waking world

as we drop suddenly into slumber

or stumble like zombies between

living and coma.

 

We are all in fear of falling asleep,

and of failing to know whether we have.

 

Copyright 2015

T. Allen Culpepper

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