Night Flight

There was a time I was more tired

A summer day, worked in the heat

Folding sheepskins in the barn

Lanolin greased up my palms

Fleece piling up as the shearers shaved

The noise, the dust, the dust, the noise

Of the machines, the bleating ewes

The crying lambs, the oaths of the two young men

I went to bed that night not quite awake

My words half-formed slurred onto the pillow

You expect to hear the sentence whole

Turn your head to be met with silence

I am knocked out by the day’s hard labour

.

Not so tonight, a continental drive

Through what remains of Atlantic storms

On the loopy autovias of northern Spain

On Roman-straight auto routes of western France

To Normandy and the D-Day beaches

Where on the minor roads

My eyes are shot

Brights lights of cars make me wince

Approaching car headlamps prick my eyes

It hurts to see

A roadside tree moves as if a man

I drift behind a slow-moving car

Find myself across the line

These hands on the wheel no longer mine

A second slides by, my head jerks alert

I recognise the ferry port

Surprised to find myself where I have been before

Stop the car, buy coffee

While sitting up I slump forward

For quite how long I cannot say

But so teary, weary

Sleep takes advantage of me

Knocks me about

Slaps my face

I respond like a drunk

Unsteady, unclear, uncoordinated

I pull up to wait for check-in

Lose an hour, maybe longer

Besides my heavy slow pulse in each limb

All I feel are my hot swollen feet

I need to lie on those cool, clean sheets

And feel you gently roll me on my side

So I do not snore

As in the summer

Of which I dream once more.

.

CLP 23/12/2019