Notes and Fragments of a Sleepwalker

Waking from restless dreams, she would often find herself
in places where she had not intended
consciously to go, least of all the basement.
She spent hours, godforsaken hours, in that basement,
with her desk on one side of the ground-level window
and on the other an old upright piano.
Later, on scraps of paper, backs of old bank checks,
and in the margins of dusty National Geographics,
we would find her scribbled fragments of random thoughts
ranging in quality from comically poor and incoherent
(“Collaborate a song with M.S. entitled Boring Desire
with first line: I'd love to want you, baby, but who cares?”)
to something more poignant, perhaps messages
to leave behind for her children (“Dream great dreams,
and do what you can.”)
Sometimes her desk would be piled with open books,
usually of a type, and we knew she read them concomitantly,
as though she were looking for something in particular.
Among them she would leave little notes to herself,
like “Read ‘Prufrock’ again.”,
this Bold One, some would say.
They printed her name on high school choral concert programs
between, to her dismay, J. S. Bach and Robert Frost,
and then untrained adolescent vocalists would
     haltingly butcher
a melody and lyric she had expertly crafted
at her conjunctive window.
She was the sole editor of her own life’s rough draft,
but they, without understanding, made her stand
to be recognized, and inwardly she cringed
while thousands of hands politely applauded.
Acquaintances smiled uncomfortably
as she looked through and past them
like a sleepwalker, her lips moving slightly
as if chanting to herself:
“But this is not at all where I intended to go,
and that is not what I meant,
that is not what I meant at all.”
She sleeps now without walking;
She dreams without waking.

1989