Castanets

Sigmund Henry*

I can't sleep, I wake up earlier than usual and look over, she is in a real sleep. When she sleeps nothing can get in the way. She breathes deep. Nothing I can do would get her up to share my early morning. I rise and dress, open the window and breath cold air and pretend to be more alive than I feel. There is nothing I want more than to crawl back into bed, rest. The dreams are too much.

These aren't nightmares in the traditional sense, they're just too real, man. I can't take it seeing my family and old friends come out from shadows with their hair cut in weird patterns wearing costumes telling me “Where is it inside you to be one of us?” Are these demons, spirits, ghosts coming to me? I swear I can't handle the things they tell me. I'm easy, even-keel, free of anxiety and nervous days. She whispers in her sleep and as I walk out back with the dogs to greet the fall morning. The long periods of sleep, the constance of rest and conciousness. A person is most vulnerable when at rest. I would not say I am very spiritual. If I am it is when I am asleep. Each night is a battle to cross the River Styx into some other place and hope to god I come back. I wonder, “How do I protect the time when I am sleeping?” How to protect the home, loved ones and children. How to keep the door barred from darkness? I need a friend.

The Alaskans (Tlingits) and their totems for the animal guides are found in deep sleep dream meditation. Others protect themselves with their crosses and stars above the doors and supper table and the bed, the bed. The gun under my pillow will not protect me. Sleep is important. Sleeping is the closest form of holiness I know. Children are the most spirtual creatures on Earth, and they sleep a whole lot! Bless us for that time as an infant when there was no such thing as fears or worries, the only constant being sleep.

I am worried about my blood being sucked out. The Slavic, in their fear of the night-walking blood cravers, hung garlic over their beds. To be honest, my fear is more based in the dream lands we walk each night. The dream is where I feel most vulnerable. It seems that anything could reach me there. In the 1500s, before the Spanish arrived with their beliefs and influence, the Aztecs made dolls. They were called trouble men, and they kept that darkness at bay. Decorated in warrior dress and fantastic color. Trouble men were placed underneath pillows, scaring off any midnight demons invading your dreams.

Being on the road is holy. Driving, I love to do for hours. On an all day drive the other day, I was thinking about protection, protection for the home and the ones you love. To sleep in peace. Your lover, your children, Your home and spirits. Hang totems in the home, particularly over the door. Bed. I would like to bury a hammer of Thor into the wooden frame under the bed. Perhaps place arrow heads at the four corners, or an axe dipped in rams blood then burned in a fire of lambsquarter and place it beneath the floor boards. I will take a lock of hair from my wife and frame it in the northeastern bedpost towards my head. The ribs of my dog in the southern posts, and the rotting berries of the fall I will smear behind the head board. My childs bloodletting in the boards. Semen and dicot root!

God, man, what has one to do? Odin keep me safe for Christs' sake? May ravens forever sit on my rooftop and keep watch as they crow and moan and eat my garbage and garden. Tonight! I will sleep in eastern Kansas and place my head at the north end of the bed. The golden arm is buried on the the far southern side of the land. His arm protected him while he was alive; no more necessary in death? Mother told me a story once. Do I get out of bed at this late hour, and go out into the night to dig up another man's golden arm? As the arm sat under the bed and we slept I could hear the wind at the window moan. The air screeching across the glass weeping “Where's my golden arm?”

“Woooooooo” sweat, heartbeats loud, spooky-cold and spooky.

*Or maybe Ray Raposa.

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