“Sleepwalking” by Sarah Ens


by Sarah Ens

Just rats at first, massive, spherical, scuttling the ceiling, then people,
men mostly, perched at the foot of my bed like gargoyles
‘til I’d manage a dry why and they’d un-stone, slink back to the closet,
slide shut the door, all simple hallucinations until, one day,
I resurrected. The evidence: framed photos plucked from the walls
and stacked on the pillow beside me, a summer dress
pulled over my pajamas, my palms pressed to the window
where a shivering woman waved, grin bright, wanting in,
and Jesus making angels in the snow.
I don’t know why it started, this sleepwalking,
though some agitation seems reasonable given the state of things (bad),
and the cosmic veil not so thick. It could be my thyroid—
that’s what went wrong with my roommate, grinding coffee in her sleep
completely covered in bruises—and there have been signs something’s off:
on Palm Sunday, at a service of Faith and Miracles amid strobes and smoke,
the preacher cast out demons, spoke in tongues, and delivered
a deadpan diatribe against Satan’s machinations, pleading God
speak life into that thyroid, move as a magnet along that aching spine,
the snapped neck of scepticism under his boot. Who here is broken?
he called, and hundreds of hands went up—transcendent, it seemed,
to strain so shamelessly for the cross. Maybe some similar desire
stirs me, drives each unconscious step into the uncertain dark,
sends me stumbling over a gleaming Jesus, newly roused, shedding
linen cloths, unswaddling, saying look, my huge wounds,
his cold hand pressed to my side, the glands of my throat, declaring me
risen, absolutely, all open to miracle, rats swiveling incarnate above.


Sarah Ens is a writer and editor based in Treaty 1 territory (Winnipeg, MB). Winner of The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest and Room Magazine’s Short Forms Contest, she has published poetry and non-fiction in magazines including Prairie Fire, Arc Poetry Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, and Poetry Is Dead. Her debut collection of poetry, The World Is Mostly Sky (Turnstone Press), was shortlisted for the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award and the Lansdowne Prize for Poetry. Her second book, Flyway (Turnstone Press), launched spring 2022.

You can also read our 5 Questions with Sarah Ens here.