Compulsion

I watched you tire and yearn for sleep
But you spoke of the necessity to remain awake
I did not understand your insistence
So I bide you farewell and sweet dreams
Yet before I could depart from your company
I saw you rise upon the highest precipice you could
And hurl yourself from it in violent emotion
Falling, falling through the air in horror and desire.
How could I watch you falling, falling so
Without my heart running after you quickly,
faster and faster?
My eyes searching in vain to rediscover reality
My body slumping to the ground, still yet watching?
You crashed to the ground loudly in front of me
Just an extended arm away from my touch
Face down with your hair covering it
A twisted mass.
Oh, my dismay to see you breathe
Then breathe no more
And I would cry out to you, call you to me
But my compulsions and breath are gone too.

Jamie Morris
September 28, 1990

So, my friend Cindy was a bit of a klutz this night. If I remember correctly, I was in her dorm room studying with her and decided to go to bed. She said she was planning on studying longer, or something like that, so I said goodnight and turned to leave. She climbed up onto the top bunk bed in her room and stretched out on it with her book. As I grabbed the handle, she called out to me, suddenly remembering something she wanted to tell me. I turned just in time to see her swing up on her bed in excitement, lose her balance, and fall off onto the floor!

The expression on her face as she fell was priceless! She made a solid splat on the floor, and giggled helplessly for several minutes. I fell back against the door behind me and slid down its length until I was sitting on the floor in front of her, too dizzy from laughing to remain standing. Eventually, she lay silent and motionless, as if dead. I wanted to ask if she was okay, but I was winded from laughing so hard. Slowly she raised her head, her face hidden behind her long, tangled locks, and whimpered my name. That set us both laughing again to the point of tears.

Her roommate returned, pushing me forward as she opened the door. My friend and I rose from the floor and tried to compose ourselves. Cindy could no longer remember what she was going to tell me, so I exited, crossed the hall to my dorm room, sat down, and wrote this poem. She burst into my room as I was editing it to tell me what she’d forgotten, and we both lost it again until her roommate came looking for her. Good times!

The emotional force of the poem does not adequately approximate our level of mirth from that night, but it was the best I could do to match the intensity we’d felt. It’s been 25 years, and I still can’t read this poem without laughing.

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