• Cath Drake


Serious Sleep

The earth has tipped as I fall into my room, amongst loose change,

caught in the gravitational pull of the great safe ship of my bed.

I tunnel down quickly, loosing my grasp, spiralling toward the centre


as I hear a timbered voice say clearly: there's no other way, sweetcakes,

let go of the trailer full of broken glass you’re hauling, follow the blue trail.

I try to assert wake-up, but instead I get pictures to fool me I'm already awake—


the subconscious in its liquid stride scooping me deeper. A sped-up movie

slashes a diagonal timeline across the jumbled pictures of my life, then

it settles like layers of coloured sand. The dense core is too black, too sharp


to recall. And when the Gods of sleep finally let me go, I float to the surface

a long way, waking in sub-levels first, to decompress, each time not exactly sure

where I am: eating fried banana in a lover's kitchen, my too long legs tucked


in a ten year old’s bed, at a wooden school desk, a holiday house in France;

then my rose duvet is there, and sliding into focus a wardrobe, a door,

a window, piece by piece. I register the blue sky outside in full swing:


my limp body pillowed and beached, limbs earth-heavy. I test one thought

at a time and find the wires still connect, yet something has washed clean.

I stretch an arm toward the wide-angled world that has shifted on its axis.





For Dennis Severs House


A woman in fingerless gloves took me into her house.

The whole house was lit by candles. Everything clay,

metal, cloth, wood. There were heavy teak cabinets full

of painted china, letters sealed with wax, a spray


of lavender hung up to dry, leather-bound books.

We toasted crumpets in the iron stove. The tabby cat

padded by the open fire as we talked in the slow slope

of time. Unfamiliar iron utensils hung next to a top hat


and a spinning wheel that stirred. Up through the stairs,

white petticoats hovered like ghosts in the loft. The quiet

left me on edge, close to the hollowness in my gut.

I didn't want to leave the still candlelight, the way it lit


the raw folds of her face, made her words close and rich,

charged the space between things, touched a gate in the well

of my ribcage, but I lost track of time, turned my head to see

a message blinking on my phone, and in an instant, I fell


into peak hour on a six lane highway, bracing with the rush.

Unable get the buzz of traffic, the glare of electricity

out of my skin, she lost interest in me, took me

to the heavy door with my crumpet to go. Suddenly,


I was out on the black road in the mist of winter:

searing street lamps, blasts of traffic, glowing skyscrapers, 

power drills, throbbing nightclubs; my heart stuttering

out of control, a tight fist around the morning paper.