Sleeping With Waves
by Anita Lerek

If you have not saved your work
in the computer’s memory, all is lost.
. . . a lifetime asks the question:
“Are you saved?”

—Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Ronald S. Miller
From Age-ing to Sage-ing

In fish time, I rest
between stretches of pain.
Eyes open, stomach filled
with wastewater, wipes, plastic fibres,
failures, 3 am, undigestible.

At first, the flutters—
unmarked words, pushed down.
I lie still.
My belly is a map
of twisting biography.
Station to station, abandoned,
names pounding, just out of reach.
Where am I?

Gut splits open to flashes of heroism:
my ambition printed on skyscraper waves,
defying the gods of wind and blood.
To stay up!
I was a child of poisoned flowers
that lay in deep places.
I dove down,
returned with wounded stones
from that hole for souls
overturned by life,
screaming darkly in the wreckage.

Sorrow of the fall, sorrow of the rise.
I clutched the stones through gales,
through monster lips, exploding . . .
into frailty. No turning back.
Losing strength, I . . not I—lie labelled,
unnamed, despised, swallowed.

My sea family beats inside me,
as sickness
or something else . . .
held together by the prayer of stones.
I read the waves, try to save the evidence.
This is why I am still here. I diarize
the odors in dead air, the unflowering
of plants, my debilitation.

Beat of the hurt,
beat of the healing,
my mind travels,
harvesting the night.

PAINTING: Waves by Rashid Al Khalifa (1982).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this poem, I look at the synchronicity between personal and environmental identity, the hurt and the healing processes within each, and the power of poetry to contain it all.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Lerek’s poetry is a meditation, a continually deepening journey into the mind of her work. Her poems do not end, they pause. Visual art, jazz, social and environmental justice are vehicles for her thought. Born in Poland, she retains a sense of otherness. She is a publishing late-bloomer. Her poems have appeared in  Off Course, River Heron, Verse-Virtual, Persimmon Tree,  and  other publications. She is author of a chapbook, of History and Being (2019). Anita Lerek lives with her archivist husband in Toronto, Canada. Visit her on Facebook and Instagram.