Sleep is just a way of counting the centuries. I couldn’t keep my eyes open when I thought of the thickets you would go through. There was a kind of absence in the king’s mood, and the ladies in waiting really wouldn’t, at least not that long. I don’t think I had a choice. Lying down was a hard ride. The dreams stung my insides and twisted my sense of direction. The pricking of my thumbs and the hairs at the back of my neck reminded me of something I was forgetting— a kettle on the open flame, a flatiron left face down on a fabric. Settling into those strange regurgitations of yesterday, I left it to work itself out, or burn down the place, whichever. You age more slowly when you’re moving. I was the one standing still (or rather lying), which didn’t do us any good at all. You should have found me as decrepit as my dress, crumbling to dust around your bootprints. In fact I was buck naked when you took my hand, which no one ever tells anymore—but still as soft as the day I first spun this tale. And you, a hundred years my junior, losing the horse and other useless accoutrements, hacking away at my defenses to get to that soft core of home.


“Waking Up” originally appeared online in Fickle Muses, November 15, 2009. “Waking Up” also won an Honorable Mention in the Northwest Cultural Council’s 4th Annual International Juried Exhibition, Nov 2007.