Today my poem took inspiration from the the League of Canadian Poets prompt to write a poem about what happens when you sleep, as well as today’s NaPoWriMo.net prompt modeled on the 1915 book Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. It asked for a poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily – perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood. The monologue doesn’t have to be a recounting of the person’s whole life, but could be a fictional remembering of some important moment, or statement of purpose or philosophy, with any degree of drama thrown in. I chose to write from the perspective of a cousin who contracted encephalitis from a mosquito, and died several years later, long before I was born.
Maryse Reiner To call is it sleeping sickness implies a certain serenity but I can tell you, from this side of my closed eyes, it was never true. Before all that I was praised for my black curls and round blue eyes, like a doll they’d say, never getting old enough to be noted for my keen math skills or the way I could run to the treehouse faster than my brothers and climb the ladder like a squirrel. I loved the colour yellow and the way my mother’s carrot cake tasted ¬ best on my birthday. I never had time for a real crush, or to really dream about what I’d do when I finished school, but I do know it would have been more than house and babies. I do know I would have danced, even through the reluctance and bone-ache of old age. I do know I would have gone to the lake every summer, stayed up for every sunset, shut my eyes to memorize the way the crimson and pink, the streaks of orange reflected on the water. Held the shades and shapes like a favourite painting, in my heart and behind my eyes, so I’d always have some place to go to in the dark.