I wrote this poem recently when England was in the grip of a recent heat wave – maybe not by most standards, but believe me, 25 degrees is a heatwave here – that as ever, brought the country to a shuddering halt.
Living in England and I’d guess may parts of northern Europe, we seem to spend a lot of time wishing it was sunnier and hotter, only to find that it’s all too much when we get the weather we wished for! It turns out that we’re not that good at handling the heat and even trips out to the seaside at these times will inevitably just end in some ridiculous traffic jam where lines of people sit and bake in hot car shaped ovens. It’s what we Brits often refer to as ‘Bank Holiday Fun’.
The worst thing for me though is that it affects my sleep. It’s not that major a thing, but I do find that when it’s too hot I’ll be up out of bed and sitting waiting for sleep to come at least once a week. Sometimes that might mean that I just have to spend 20 minutes reading a book, but on other occasions I can be up for hours before crashing out on the settee. It’s never nice waking up the next day and realising that you had three hours sleep!
I wrote this poem on such an occasion recently. It was the second time I’d gotten out of bed that night and in the end I just started writing ideas in a notebook until I had enough for some kind of coherent poem.
Awake Heat strangles sleep, rendering you a passenger on board a fragile boat adrift in the storm at night. Mind and body unable to do what is needed, natural, so instead you prowl in search of some remedy to calm the stomach's churning, soothe the skin where beads of sweat sheen and shimmer, bridge these troubled waters and allow you to return once more to a slumber, less fitful, that will only see you disembark, blinking across the landing as morning breaks and day calls. Instead, above, floorboards call out to indicate that you're not alone in this struggle. So you slump, uncomfortable, yet cooler, you sense the boat breaking so you cling to driftwood and hope for the best, undecided if you'll sink or swim.
Having written this poem and the bones of another, I looked at the clock to find that it was just after 3am. For someone who gets up for work at 6am, this was not a nice realisation!
I just felt like a passenger on this particular night. Like I had no control whatsoever over whether I’d get to sleep or not. This came out in the poem as feeling adrift, almost letting the current take you wherever it was going. I knew I wasn’t going to just drop off to sleep, so had to fill my time and the thought about being adrift prompted the whole poem. At one point I heard someone else get up and hoped that I hadn’t disturbed them. It made me try to go to sleep, but again it was unsuccessful!
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this poem and as ever, if you have any thoughts on it then feel free to leave a comment.