On her Tiredness

I really love reading poetry, which is pretty much the most pretentious-sounding thing you can say without saying the same phrase in Latin, or something (don’t worry, I went to a comprehensive school, not Eaton, so I can’t speak Latin. Although I do know how to source poor-quality weed, if anyone is interested.

I don’t know why it sounds so pretentious though; poetry is ace. I was trying to think of how to explain what it is I like about it, and the best thing I came up with was that a good poem is like a good photograph, or piece of art. In the same way that you can look at a very ordinary scene or object and see it in a completely different way by looking at a great photograph or painting of it. Everyday human experience seen through a different perspective. The ordinary, made extraordinary. Or, the extraordinary made tangible. It works both ways. I guess I see poetry as art with words, and I like words, and that’s why I like it.

Anyway, a few years ago when the kids were smaller and I really couldn’t read novels at all (sleep deprivation and 400 page books just don’t mix,) I started to read a lot more poetry. Nice short poems that I could read without falling asleep halfway through. And one year, my mum bought me a subscription to The Poetry Book Society (geek-tastic moment there!) They send you a new poetry collection book four times a year. The first book was called Pessimism for Beginners (great title!) by Sophie Hannah. This was the first poem.

On her Tiredness.

When I consider how my night is spent,

Either awake, or waiting to be woken

From my leased sleep, and never an unbroken

Ten solid hours, I wonder: was I meant

For gigs like this? Somebody should invent

Sleep substitutes, maybe a sleep gift token.

Suddenly, it’s as if a voice has spoken,

As if this voice was heaven-sent:

‘It’s not essential to be sleep deprived.

Everyone has their limit; you’ve reached yours.

To struggle on would not be right or fair.

The Lord is quite impressed that you’ve survived

This long. Invest some cash in a good cause;

They also serve who hire a Swiss au Pair.’

With perfect timing, someone had just summed up, far more wittily and succinctly than I was able to, my awful sleep deprived state. That point in motherhood where you exist in a zombie-like state, dreaming – in an abstract sense -of sleep. ‘Leased sleep’. Yes! That’s it – like your sleep is never your own! ‘A sleep gift voucher’ – OH! The best idea ever! And the line ‘was I meant for gigs like this?’ – just very reassuring to hear someone voice that out loud (well, on paper anyway.) I know a few people who are in the zombie-phase right now; I hope this helps. Although not as much as a Swiss au-pair might….sorry.

So – poetry. Yeah!



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