Sleep is a friend I have fallen out with,
I wish she would come back to me.
I bring her Valerian, milk and honey,
I plead with her, I promise her dreams.
I wander the house listening for her voice
lisping in the cupboards, beyond the walls.
She has sent me here, it's not the same
as the world by day. I have no friends.
I am alone in slumbering rooms
with snoring chairs and bare faced clocks
I used to love her velvet arms,
her fur kisses, her soundless caves.
If only she would tell me what I'd done
and what it is she wants from me.
The following letter was forwarded to Diamond Twig by Rain Dog poetry magazine.
Dear Rain Dog editors:
I was going to send you a letter asking you to connect me to Julia Darling, and then I learned to my dismay that she had passed away last year. I am an American poet and journalist who lived in England for one year from 2002 to 2003, and while there I purchased Issue 6 of Rain Dog, which contains her magnificent poem "Insomnia."
The reason that I wanted to write to Julia is because just a few hours ago, I taught her poem to a group of 6- to 12-year-old girls as part of a workshop on personification in poetry. As a newspaper reporter, I often cover the local chapter of Girls Inc., a nonprofit group that inspires girls to become strong, smart and bold. Since I co-edit a poetry series - Moon Tide Press - on the side, the executive director asked me to talk to the girls about writing poetry.
For the unit on personification, I used two poems: Carl Sandburg's "Fog", which is famous, and Julia's "Insomnia," which deserves to be. Suffice to say that the girls adored Julia's poem, and we had a lengthy discussion about how losing sleep can often feel like losing a friend. I gave each of the 13 girls a photocopy of the poem, and they probably all have it in their notebooks now.
Because of Julia's passing, I unfortunately will not be able to tell her that her poetry is being taught in southern California. However, if you have any contact with her family members or other loved ones, could you forward this e-mail to them?
In this day and age, recognitions for poets can be few and far between, and I hope I've played some role in keeping Julia's art alive.
Moon Tide Press
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
Insomnia was first published in Sudden Collapses in Public Places (Arc Publications, 2003)
© 2003 Julia Darling: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.
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This page last updated 29th August 2006