Friday, April 3, 2015

Nocturne

I watch you sleep.

On the cusp of your 59th year on this planet; the 21,535th time you've closed your eyes in slumber, I watch you sleep.  And that, in and of itself is noteworthy.

"You just never know what a day might bring", you are fond of saying -- sometimes in mirth, sometimes with a cynical curl of your lip -- but it is true.  Life is nothing more than a series of tiny survivals; endlessly strung together to create a span of time that defines us all.  And you have survived.  You are here.  "How do you like your blue-eyed boy, Mister Death?"  For he is unvanquished.  Still, he lives.

I watch you sleep.

Your brow puckers faintly, eyes flickering behind gossamer lids.  Do you dream?  Are you at peace?  What demons dare chase you even in slumber?  Perhaps you are a child again, wandering the forests of British Columbia, trailing behind your father's muddy work boots. Maybe you are an achingly young man, laughing in the bed of a pickup truck with your friend, Lorne.  Maybe in your dreams you fly; aloft with the pelicans, swooping over the stormy gray Pacific waters. Or do you dream of things not yet seen?  A spirit world known only to you.  I will not ask.  Your dreams are yours and yours alone and a gift between you and God.

I watch you sleep.

I see the marks upon your skin.  A faint discoloration on your nose where you rubbed it raw as a child.  The feather-light lines at the corners of your eyes from years of squinting into the sunlight from the seats of motorcycles and dandling ski lift chairs. Your slightly crooked smile from a bar fight in your youth, when you were flying high on hockey, beer, and youthful immortality.

I watch you sleep.

I watch you sleep and as you stir, your arms reaches for me clumsily, and I feel the warmth of your skin against my belly.  You curl into my body and my shoulder presses gently against your strongly beating heart.  I feel the blood coursing through you; Irish from your father, German from your mother.  Generations of Teutonic and Celtic warriors that battle through your veins and cry out "He lives! Despite your best attempts, oh life of toil and terror -- still, he lives!"

I watch you sleep, and as I nestle against you, my hair trails against your shoulder, and I rest my hand upon your chest.  Watching as it slowly rises and falls with your breathing, I imagine the hands that have lain here before mine.  A grandmother, checking for fever.  A mother, bandaging a wound.  Your children, faces milk-drunk and drowsy, as they sleepily nuzzle upon you after a late-night bottle.  And the women before me:  each one resting against your shoulder, hands on your chest, and each of you holding onto each other with something that felt like hope...something that made you both believe that, if only for a moment, there was love.  I welcome them all.  Your family, your lovers, your friends...I open my heart to them and thank them, one and all, for every kiss, every caress, every scar, and every strike, because they made you.  They molded you with every touch and every tear, like a creek slowly chipping away at a canyon wall to make the man who lies beside me and takes my breath away.

I watch you sleep, and I see your children in your face.  I see your determination and intelligence in the set of your daughter's jaw and the intensity of her gaze.  I see your tender heart and ebullient joy in your son's dreamy hazel eyes and warm smile.  I see your legacy in their faces and I glory in the gift of being given admittance into their lives through you. Through them, your life continues indefinitely.  Through them, you shall never die.

I watch you sleep.

I watch you sleep, listening to the soft purring noise you make that brings a smile to my face.  I watch you sleep, nudging you gently when that soft purr slowly becomes a louder, snoring growl which is...not quite as smile-inducing.  But even that mild annoyance is a gift; a treasure.  It is a way I know you are here, even in sleep.

I watch you sleep.

I watch you sleep and know that soon you will wake.  I will wish you a "Happy Birthday", you will smirk and drawl "thank you, Darlin'", and we will wander to the kitchen for our morning coffee.  Then, I hand you over to the rest of the world, for you are not a possession...you are not mine to keep.  In a few hours, the world will reach for you with its ringing phones, chirping texts, Facebook messages, deadlines, budget reports, and needy, clinging talons and you will be gone.  But for now, you belong to no one but the night. And she is not a jealous lover...the night shares you with me and I gaze upon your face with wonderous awe.

I watch you sleep.

I watch you sleep and I know peace.

I watch you sleep and I know love.

I watch you sleep, and I drift away as well; your breath on my neck, your arm on my waist, and my heart in your hand.