By David R Graham
In the realm of hypnopompia
In transit between wakefulness and sleep
I am conscious that I tread on endless flights of stair
I have no notion where my pointless tramping it will cease,
Nor can I point to any landing and say, ‘I started out from there.’
I feel the rough stone treads beneath my feet
And press the cold and seamless walls,
That hem me to my left and to my right,
And force me up or down these shadowed wells.
In this borderland of consciousness and sleep
My false awakening is a vivid and convincing dream,
Wherein I know that I am not awake
And that my constant treading on these stairs
Is an ordeal I am powerless to forsake.
And yet, within my powerlessness, I know
That I must find a way to free myself
From this constant going up and going down again
And so I strive to hear the breaking power of ticking time,
That will with shrill alarm these stairwells break.
But what price time, when I am not awake?
Time has no meaning here in this hypnopompic state,
Where every sense is radically enhanced and
Witnessed in the rapid movement of my shuttered eyes.
Yet knowing in my dream, that I am still in slumber,
Avails me no advantage or control
For I have no power to rouse myself
from my pointless tramping role.
Up and down these stairs I go.
Or is it down and up? I do not know.
I perceive no purpose to this constant rise and fall
Nor do I know ere my ascending and descending
Will take me anywhere at all.
How long will I endure this ordeals pointless toil?
I do not know. For I perceive no point in time
Where at my travail will be done.
Though I sleep. I am lucid, conscious, sentient, and aware
I feel the stone and sense I tramp these stairs alone
For I perceive no others come or go,
From whom I might learn the purpose of the stair.
But now I sense that time is pressing in
To separate the walls that guide my course
And time brings with it light,
That fades the steps beneath my feet
And makes me fear a fall.
I lurch and flail for something firm to hold
And bolt awake on tousled bedding sheet
Then fall back grateful with relief,
That I am freed from hypnopompia’s captivating sleep.