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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Poem of the Week: “Sleepwalking” by David Wheatley

Photo by Chris Waits

Here’s a flashback to the first volume of The Wake Forest Series of Irish Poetry published in 2005. In this poem, David Wheatley navigates the surreal feeling of waking up in a time and place you should not. With oxymoronic adjectives and unexpected images, Wheatley paints a picture of the half-awake subconscious that makes us question whether we feel more familiar with our dreams or our realities.

Sleepwalking

I want to feel it again: what I felt
when I woke once standing in the kitchen
after walking downstairs in my sleep.
The school bags had all been lined up
and the lunches packed in clingfilm
by the fridge, gurgling to itself,
but this was hardly the kitchen
of the evening before, the unusual shape
in the corner that was a brush then
could hardly be the brush that we used
for sweeping the tiles, and the goldfish
rubbing its nose on the glass of its bowl,
were I to hazard a finger, could
hardly but have developed a taste
for flesh, or so I thought.
I moved with the new-found awkwardness
of a woken sleepwalker across the floor
and towards the stairs and the more familiar
strangeness of dreams, but looked back
once to see it again: the kitchen
like a charcoal drawing, the table
set for my absence, this new place
I had seen for the first time
stripping of meaning the place that I knew
without a word or a struggle, threatening
only that it might become habitable.

David Wheatley, from The Wake Forest Series of  Irish Poetry, Vol. I (2005)


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