A Dreamless Sleep
I knew about halfway through.
It was less of a relationship
and more of a mothering.
I picked up your discarded socks
before friends came over, turned off
the stove when you forgot. I paid
for every meal and month of rent
so you could live your dream,
tucking mine beneath my pillow
for a drowsy stretch of time.
If you’d asked me if I was happy,
I would have tipped my head like
you’d slipped into another language.
But I loved you, or at least I was
pretty sure I did, and if anything better
was even out there at all, it wasn’t
meant for me. I loved you, and
I hated the mechanics of us.
I didn’t yet know a woman
with a different story.
I swallowed my resentments
like a collection of knives
lest I turn them on you or
press their edges to my skin.
I kept my hibernating rage
asleep. I did these things
until they stopped working.
I woke, belly full of blades,
and remembered: I am alive,
and that is not a mistake.
Jess Whetsel is a poet, writer, editor, and public speaker based in Toledo, Ohio on Erie, Kickapoo, Seneca, and Odawa land. Her poetry has appeared in the literary journal Tulip Tree Review and the book Out of the Darkness, Into the Light: Writing Workshop KC Anthology, Volume I. You can learn more about Whetsel and her work on her website, www.jesswhetsel.com, or by following her Instagram, @jesswhetselwrites.