2020 Marathon Hour 8 – I Sleep Under Two Masks

I brush my lips against my wife’s,
my whiskers tickling her nose;
and wish her a sweet goodnight.

I grab the awkward, jock-strap, polygon of my breathing-mask,
CPAP – continuous positive airway pressure,
stretch the bands until it cups my mouth and nose and latch it on.
A makeshift facehugger of medical plastics, its tail leading off
to a bedside contraption filled with distilled water,
rather than coiling my throat.

My hand searches, past pillow and tube, for my eye mask,
Molded microfiber, pillow-soft, hypoallergenic, light-proof,
pull the single strap across the web of my CPAP’s bands
drawing the eldritch sigil that’s come to mean “sleep”.

Three generations ago, my great-grandfathers curled down
under homemade quilts in crowded homes where “heating” was a luxury.

Further back still, generation upon generation made due
with straw mats in houses of wood or sod,
flies and fleas and children for bedmates;
windows of glass were for churches and kings

And hard-footed progenitors collapsed under the revolving stars,
wrapped in the furs of beasts they’d hunted,
the fading coals of their fires at their backs.

The kiss is the only part they’d recognize.

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