Academic journal article Shofar

The Sleep of the Dead

Academic journal article Shofar

The Sleep of the Dead

Article excerpt

My mother would sleep "the sleep of the dead,"

she used to say. We would wake her and she

would sigh, saying she had slept longer than

she had meant to. On the day my father

was to leave our home he lay in bed with

his back to her, a single tear in his

eye - and she, breathing softly, lay with her

back to him. "I wake to sleep," Roethke wrote.

In her sleep she seemed to leave her daily

torments behind with her two sons, boyfriends,

job, landlord, books, music, movies, paintings

and sculptures - as if sleep were without thought,

without language or dream, the stepping out

of time and into a still and deep lake.

In her old age she grew sick, too full of

pain to walk more than a few steps from her

bed. One night, after a light meal with wine,

she fell asleep. When we found her in the

morning she was lying on her side, her

arm crooked at the elbow and tucked under

her pillow, her eyes and lips closed, her cheek

smooth. …

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