the faces of loneliness

at some point during the night someone will wake you and tell you
that you are alone. they have waited until you have fallen into
the vulnerability of sleep, for the line of your mouth to go slack,
for your eyelashes to flutter as you dream. when you dream you
dream of everyday things. at least to you they are everyday,
because you never seem to realize you are dreaming. this person
who has disturbed you, they have a face that looks like a thousand
faces, of all hues and all variations of your one and only face.
you are the one who wakes yourself at night, only you. you wake
yourself in a cold sweat, bedsheets gathered in your trembling
hands. you are alone. you are surrounded by millions of people
but no one sees you as you gasp in the dry air of wakefulness,
and you don’t know now whether you are awake or asleep. these
everyday things (you think) you dream of, they are dreams of being
all alone in the middle of a vast sea, each face of your loneliness
floating with gaping mouth around the rotted boat you cling to.
asleep. awake. you’ll drown either way.