The Offense of Sleep

Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, Canada. July 2012.

It’s that time of year in the life of a school where our sleep is filled with dreams of summer, that summer of cool drinks tickling the throat on hot days, that summer of south winds and stars and evenings with the live music of nearby bars spilling into the ears of quiet cafes with rich desserts and the company of friends it’s been too long since last seen, that summer of canola fields and strawberries and bookstores in a language you understand, that summer which remains painfully at the other end of the-pile-of-things-you-need-to-do, tasks that take longer with every hour of sleep stolen from the time it takes to just-get-it-done.
In last year’s summer dream, we lived for a moment in a red house on a high cliff where the tall grass bent like the paint-licked bristles of a green-white brush in a chase of wind that sprinted with exigent indifference.
I slipped from the house one night before bed, saying I wanted to take a couple of photographs, that I’d be back in a few minutes, knowing it would be more like half an hour. Three hours later, closer to 3am than 2, I crept back home.
There’s a stillness in the middle of the night that’s magic, an openness to the world without its lid on, a sense of big that it seems an offense to be unconscious of. I took these photographs in the vacant lot next to the little red house and the skies kept moving and morphing into ever more beautiful patterns and rhythms and the moon and the stars kept shining through on the slumber of the town. A whale I couldn’t see passed near enough for me to hear it exhale and the wind wrapped everything in its urgent whispers until the gravity of exhaustion won out and dragged me home into an entirely different begrudging kind of sleep.

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