I
On Reading Cioran

Leaf caught in a branch of ice,
I am unsleeping,
heroic,
neither dead, nor dreaming,
awake.

I exist when I
don’t sleep,
it makes me feel
you there,
me watched.

You think because you
are not God,
I don’t know you.

But I’ve been here as long as you,
I know the territory:
(it’s yours and mine),
our marriage is
the first map.

II
The Insomnia of Galaxies

is archipelagos
not knowing where they end,
but swirling by each other endlessly,
sleepless
a sea of one accident succeeding another,
moons circling moons,
breath succeeding breath,

sleep, you, sleep, in stillness rest.

III
Virtual Insomnia

Sleepless,
a picture of Giacometti’s
Woman Standing stands on the sill,
next to dead roses and a clock.
On a chair, a book propped-open, wide-awake,
shows a woman Utamaro drew once.
Absent-minded,
she sticks a toothpick
through closed lips.

Outside it snows-
who is “it”?
In another room
the weatherman
thinks he knows what whoever is snowing
is going to do with it.
A series of “it”s
underlines the truth-
he doesn’t know who snows either,
but streaks the early morning with a stream of empty sound.

IV

Virtual Sleep
In the air over the lake
the big birds fly, wheeling;
they scissor the light,
pattern over pattern, invisible scribbling,
and later,
dive into the trees
for truth.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ioanna Carlsen's poem Insomnia: A Sextet

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