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Spring/Summer 2021

Shallows of Sleep

Caitlin Thomson

When I sleep with pain, it feels more present in the bed
than my husband, his body breathing beside me 

under cheap sheets. He’s a deep-sea diver, submerging himself
wholly in his dreams, while I do the backstroke on the surface.

I wish I could blame this on our children, who need ears above
water to hear them, but the lightness of my slumber pre-dates

them, my pain pre-dates them, even though they have nurtured
that pain because of what they need from me. A body to birth

them was not enough, should not be, when I chose them,
a gift history has given me. A gift I could not be more grateful for,

a gift I list to myself in the tide pools of sleep, trying to imagine
pain away from my body, as if it could become just a fish swimming past.

[Check out Caitlin Thomson's back porch advice]