Therefore I Must Sleep

This raging feverishness has rendered my limbs weak,
and my head throbs with the heat. The unrest
that runs down my spine brings on an anxiety
unwarranted, as my febrile tummy seems constricted
in the grip of fatigue.

And I must sleep for it all to go away.
Sleep, she hovers around me, prompting me to ease
And I drag my listless body to bed, thankful
for the reprieve, but as I lay down upon my pillow
it is not the welcoming pleasantness of rest
that overcomes me, but pathetic cries—
of rich evergreen forests that have never known heat
but now flaming up in an unquenchable fire;
of rivers that once flowed gaily, but now asphyxiated
with undegradable waste; of trees facing unkind cuts;
of hormone-infested udders; of forced wombs;
and of a displaced fauna in a refugee state.


The poet Kodhai, she is the voice that makes heard
these painful expressions to an unsympathetic population—
So much to be said, so much to be done
But for now, the cries must be stifled
the eyes must be closed, for
I have miles to go therefore I must sleep
I have miles to go therefore I must sleep.

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Vidya Shankar
Vidya Shankar, a widely published Indian poet, writer, editor, English teacher, and a “book” in the Human Library, says poetry is not different from her. A recipient of literary awards and recognition, she uses the power of her words to sensitize her readers about environmental issues, mental health, and the need to break the shackles of an outdated society. Vidya is the author of two poetry books, The Flautist of Brindaranyam (in collaboration with her photographer husband, Shankar Ramakrishnan), and The Rise of Yogamaya (an effort to create awareness about mental health.) She finds meaning in her life through yoga and mandalas.