The Somnambulist | Chloe Wilson

 

John Everett Millais, c. 1871

 

I have one life

and a half. I wake

 

in the bed’s centre

twisted up, snapping 

 

like an alligator. I wake

in the bathtub, I wake

 

on a hillside, I wake

with my face

 

in a cream-cake.

How to contend

 

with the evening’s mischief?

It’s always the same routine:

 

count my rings

and count my teeth

 

search the bed

and the clothes press

 

for anything which might

have slipped

 

back into the house

with me. My dimwit

 

counterpart

hands me back to myself

 

in fragments. I draw

a twig from my hair, splinters

 

from my fingers.

Embers shuffle and huff.

 

Another fire she’s lit

at my expense. I wonder:

 

can I really be liable

if memory’s amanuensis

 

took no notice? 

I shudder

 

at the slow might

of the ocean’s report,

 

its hollow boom, the spray’s

splatter and clap.

 

My other inhabitant

is not so anxious. She steps

 

flush to the edge. She has

unwavering faith

 

in her balance.

Her sleep, my life,

 

must be so easy:

painless, dreamless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chloe Wilson is the author of two poetry collections, The Mermaid Problem and Not Fox Nor Axe, which was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry and the Judith Wright Calanthe Award. She received equal first prize in the 2016 Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the 2018 Bristol Short Story Prize. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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