Polysomongraphy Results

My path through sleep

Think of your life without it.
Without that slab of outlaw time punctuating every pillow —without pillows.

from Anne Carson’s “Ode to Sleep”


I didn’t have much problem falling asleep despite sleeping in pajamas. The wires taped to my head, my chest, my legs were odd, but didn’t keep me from drifting off. Actually, “drifting” is not something I’ve ever done in sleep, instead I’d say I collapse into it and even with the sensors taped under my nose, there wasn’t anything unusual at all about my sleep. Both nights in the lab felt the same to me.

I have classical sleep architecture, “straight from a text book”—this is a good thing, and a bit unusual. “Classical sleep architecture” seems to me like something Anne Carson could work with. This means I drop quickly into a deep sleep, but then gradually transition in waves to a R.E.M. or dream state before starting my day.

What’s problematic is what the doctor calls “arousal” (which sounds pleasant) but I’d call “my mind waking up without me.” I do this, on average, fifty-three times an hour. I am stuttering through sleep. Another concept Anne Carson could work with.

So now I am sleeping with a mask that provides rhythmic bursts of air, a pressure to keep me breathing, my mind unstartled. I’m not remembering more dreams, but I am waking up out of a dense unworried fog.

I spent my evening preparing for sleep reading the latest Anne Carson, NOX. An accordion scrap book, an elegy, and a making sense of her brother’s death, or rather, his intersection and disappearance from their life before he finalized that disappearance with death. She gives this its lexicon of grief; a study at the edge of night, from the caves.

“Prowling the meanings of a word, prowling the history of a person, no use expecting a flood of light. Human words have no main switch. But all those little kidnaps in the dark. And then the luminous, big shivering, discandied, unrepentant, barking web of them them that hangs in your mind when you turn back to the page you were trying to translate.”

Earlier that day, I started a new poem about a sailor, a shift of flags on his arm. He doesn’t sleep (I don’t know how that turns out). —the barking web hanging in the mind.