The Sleeping Disciples by Henry Ossawa Tanner
I slept but my heart was awake. Listen! My beloved is knocking.
Song of Solomon 5:2
Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near.
In the night, they come to our room,
nose dripping blood or underwear damp.
“Can you help me with this?” they ask,
and we are stirred from the heavy
darkness of slumber.
I never want to wake in the night,
never want to throw back the warm covers,
to search for glasses blindly.
I dread the wet sheets
and sitting in the cold dark of the bathroom
pinching his nose until the red river stops.
But when he shivers, stripping the wet
in exchange for dry, and when he waits
oddly stoic for the clotting to begin,
I feel compassion rise.
By the time I tuck them
back in, I can say I love you and
mean it as I rub their short-cropped hair.
The hardest part is waking.