…a brief guide
The best rehearsal is sleep. Don’t try to stay awake—
you need the practice. Dress for dreamed-up guests.
Get comfortable. Plan carefully your Final Thought,
but remember you won’t have so much time. You won’t
have any time at all. So think of your family, your cat,
the man you haven’t known well since high school. Apologize.
Think of your shame, what sex feels like when it’s good, why
you touch the wrong people when you’re drunk. This is difficult
to get right—that last best thought, tightest cap, working off-switch.
If you concentrate enough, the world will start to end as you sleep.
Come morning, there you are, awake and surprised by your body,
how it obeys the awkward beats of a small skipping motor.
These nights will happen more and more. You will learn
to make yourself dead in preparation for the real thing.
Be warned: there will come a time, during an hour saved for ghosts,
when you believe that you are awake, though you are not.
You will, in your readiness, not be ready. That night,
a strange low whistle will call your eyes to the window,
where a widening light will begin to erase the room.
You have practiced so well. Now all dream endings feel real.
Your mouth will open. You will not think. You will not
think at all. By the time you reach the kitchen,
in the middle of the house, headed for the basement,
by the time you remember who you are, that you are
alive, that you are terrified, alone and fully animal—
what is it, then, that you will have learned?