While She Sleeps by Bob Tomolillo

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Last night my Icelandic wife spoke Spanish in her sleep.
            “Es muy importante,”  she said.  
             Many years ago she vacationed in Barcelona. Sometimes she sleeps with her  arms outstretched. 
             “There are a lot of people in my head at night,” she says, as I help her slip out of  her sweaty nightclothes.  
             The sacrifice she has made all these years to leave her beloved homeland is  hidden in these dreamscapes.  
             I found a Bible under her pillow while changing her bed sheets.   Her mother once told her that placing schoolbooks under her pillow would help  remember her lesson. 
             As her restless spirit moves through the night, I can only watch and listen, for she  is alone in her labyrinth. I am helpless and distant as she struggles against her malady.  She winces as I brush my hand against her forehead. She covers her nose from  offending odors which I cannot detect.
            Thriving house plants are discarded for their  imagined consequence. I am the sentry on watch during her struggle, determined to  follow its lead and when at last the infection subsides, a new challenge arises–one  more terrifying than the last.
            We sit together, numbed and silent until the answer is  revealed as a red ant moves across the tile floor, emerging from its pinhole entrance, a  minuscule construct of life, moving to each edge of the square, gauging its ability to  cross the grout line, filling the room with the volume of its reason, until it finally crosses  the massive trench.

Bob Tomolillo is an artist, writer and builder born in Cambridge , Massachusetts. He has a BFA from the University of Massachusetts, an MFA from Syracuse University, and is presently an Artist in Residence at Artists For Humanity in South Boston.


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