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Poetry: 'At Dead Of Night', Late Family Offering Comfort in Thoughts and in Dreams

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Ann enjoys using poetry as a medium for reflecting on family past and present, often when emotions run deep.

The Small Hours

How many of you have lain awake at night, usually in the early hours of the morning, and had thoughts of people and places just invade your head seemingly at random?

I'm sure there are many who think of past deeds, past times, a past life with all its joys and sorrows. There are some memories that come to me very often and in melancholy moments the small hours can bring heavy emotions indeed.

My parents were wonderful people; they suffered not a little because of me but they were always there to make me feel better. They never failed me though I worry I failed them. I know, too, that they forgave me but the guilt floods back in those dark hours.

This is for them.

Support and Comfort

Support during School Days: Mum & Dad each side of me

Support during School Days: Mum & Dad each side of me

Mum, Dad & I, December 1974

Mum, Dad & I, December 1974

Giving me away! (& Mum made the dress)

Giving me away! (& Mum made the dress)

At Dead of Night

At dead of night

the dead come bright

into my head,

not causing fright,

more seeking right

to understand,

to soothe my plight,

allow my flight

to peaceful sleep.

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Past deeds not right

always in sight,

a guilt too deep.

My sorrow might

abate by light

when dawn creeps up,

though aching head

at my Mum’s bed

I still feel now.

Then she smiles bright

and holds me tight

to ease my pain.

My Dad comes steady

a huge hug ready

to lift my soul.

At dead of night

the dead come bright

into my head.


Dad with Little Me!

Dad with Little Me!


Of course, these 'thoughts' I had were probably mostly in a state of dreaming, though they seemed real enough to me.

The brain functions in many ways whilst one is asleep. I decided to do a little research into what the brain can do during sleep and I found some interesting facts.

REM and Non-REM Sleep

As some of you will know, REM refers to Rapid Eye Movement. REM sleep happens in a cycle once you are asleep.

Usually, it first occurs 90 minutes after you fall asleep, the first period typically lasting 10 minutes. Each REM stage last longer, the final episode possibly lasting up to one hour. Heart rate and breathing quickens and you can have intense dreams during the REM because your brain is more active.

There are three phases of non-REM sleep. Each can last from 5 to 15 minutes; all three phases can be experienced before reaching REM sleep.

Stage of Non-REM Sleep

Stage 1:

  • The eyes are closed but it's easy to wake up; lasts from 5 to 10 minutes.

Stage 2:

  • Your are in a light sleep. Heart rate slows and body temperature drops. The body is getting ready for deep sleep.

Stage 3:

  • The deep sleep stage. It's harder to be woken up and, should someone wake you, you would feel disorientated for a few minutes.
  • During the deep sates of Non-REM sleep, the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle and strengthens the immune system.
  • As you get older, you sleep more lightly and get less deep sleep. Ageing is also linked to shorted time spans of sleep, although studies show you still need as much sleep as when you were younger.

What does the Brain do while You Sleep?

The Brain:

  • makes decisions. It can process information and prepare for actions during sleep.
  • creates and consolidates memories. While you're asleep, the brain is busy forming new memories, consolidating older ones and linking more recent with earlier memories. For this reason, sleep plays a very important rôle in learning.
  • makes creative connections. Sleep can be a powerful creativity-booster, as the in an unconscious resting state can make surprising new connections that it perhaps wouldn't have made in a waking state.
  • clears out toxins. A series of 2013 studies found that an important function of sleep may be to give the brain a chance to do a little housekeeping. Researchers at the University of Rochester found that during sleep, the brains of mice clear out damaging molecules associated with neurodegeneration. So if we're not getting enough sleep, our brains don't have adequate time to clear out toxins, which could potentially have the effect of accelerating neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
  • learns and remembers how to perform physical tasks. The

    brain stores information into long-term memory through short bursts of brain waves at strong frequencies that occur during REM sleep.

    This process can be particularly helpful for storing information related to motor tasks, like driving, swinging a tennis racquet or practicing a new dance move, so that these tasks become automatic.

    So perhaps my 'dreams' were a voyage into my memories taking the creative step of seeing my parents comfort me whilst my body was at rest.


(5 Amazing Things Your Brain Does While You Sleep)

© 2013 Ann Carr


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 19, 2014:

Easy E: Wow! Thank you so much for such an awesome comment. I'm glad you liked this and I appreciate your words regarding the balance. Several of my hubs have started from a poem and then I try to make the hub a decent length by explaining or elaborating the theme. I like to read backgrounds so I like to write them too. Memories versus 'unnatural highs' makes a good point. Have a great day! Ann

Eric Pelka from State College, Pennsylvania on March 18, 2014:

I always love reading your stuff. You find an amazing balance of creative aspects like poetry and informative practices. It's always nice to see you truly embrace your creative side with pieces like this. Rememberance of the past is something we as people often overlook as creatures of comfort. More people need to look to memories instead of unnatural highs. Makes us all better people. Beautiful, interesting and just plain awesome.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on February 28, 2014:

Thank you, Ebonny, for your visit and your kind comment. I knew the forgiveness was there but I still feel guilty. I'm glad you found it touching as that was my intention.

You're right about the photos, they are treasured; in fact, I put others on before publishing but couldn't bear to leave them all there, it was too raw for me.

I greatly appreciate our visit and hope you have a great evening. Ann

Ebonny from UK on February 28, 2014:

As time goes by forgotten memories, both good and bad, can come to mind at some odd times. I do believe forgiveness and seeing things in a new perspective will eventually prevail all round. Thank you for sharing this touching poem and you treasured photographs.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on February 27, 2014:

Thanks Dolores. Actually, the bit about my Dad's hug was a dream and, like yours, it made me feel so happy when I awoke; strange how things like that happen. I really believe it was him wanting to make me feel better. Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on February 27, 2014:

Thank you, tobusiness. I'm glad you like this one. All the best to you. Ann

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on February 27, 2014:

Ann, this was so beautiful. I know you were not talking about dreaming but not long ago I had a dream about a gone loved one. It was a wonderful dream, simple as a visit. It felt like a visit. I woke the next morning feeling lighthearted and refreshed. Oddly enough, several people who were also close to him had similar dreams, and felt that same feeling of light heartedness when they awoke.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on February 27, 2014:

Hi Ann, this is very timely for me. Loved the poem, great hub!!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on February 14, 2014:

DREAM ON: Thank you so much for your visit and for your comment. Thankfully, I did spend lots of time with my parents and they helped me a lot with my children. This poem is about a time when they got the bad end of things and I couldn't do a lot to stop that. Bad memories. However, the good memories far outweigh the bad. Best wishes to you. Ann

DREAM ON on February 14, 2014:

We do all we can while we can. I also wish I spent more time with my mom and dad instead of going out with friends. Now I think of them often and I love your poem and your beautiful words. I just appreciate all the good times I did have and can cherish always.Have a beautiful day.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on December 07, 2013:

Thank you so much, Jodah. Yes, one has to move on but the small hours are notorious for reminding us! I appreciate you stopping by and commenting.

John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on December 06, 2013:

I can totally relate to this Ann. I think about my parents often and what they sacrificed for me and my siblings. I know Icould have done some things better, but you can't go back and change things. As long as you learn from your mistakes and strive to be the best person you can be now., your parents will be proud. Good hub...touching, and lovely pictures.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 27, 2013:

Thank you, BlossomSB, for your kind comments and for taking the time to visit. Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 27, 2013:

Thank you, Gypsy Rose Lee, for your lovely comments. I know they'd forgive me but the pain lingers on! Appreciate you stopping by.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on September 27, 2013:

Great pics and wonderful poem. Your parents will always be with you watching over you and by your side until you meet again. Time heals all and things get forgiven over time.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on September 25, 2013:

That was a very interesting poem and I think it is a theme that many people can relate to, but you have expressed it so well for all of us. Well done!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 22, 2013:

CraftytotheCore: thank you for your comment. I think everyone has experienced such things, some more, some less, but if you have you know even more of what I mean. Appreciate you dropping by. Ann

CraftytotheCore on September 22, 2013:

Really Lovely! It has happened to me too.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 22, 2013:

old albion, good to see you again. You're right, Graham, it's wishing you could have done something differently or in my case wishing you hadn't done something at all! Appreciate your kind comments. Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 22, 2013:

Mhatter99, thank you for your comment and for taking the time to visit. I much appreciate your words.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 22, 2013:

Tuatha, thank you. I did think twice about publishing this but decided to because I view it as a tribute to my lovely parents. I'm glad it inspired you to publish another poem; I'll pop over and look! Ann

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on September 22, 2013:

Hi Ann. This is a lovely tribute to those who loved and nurtured you through difficult times. I am 70 next birthday. There is never a day nor a night when I don't think of my parents. Wishing I could have done something differently sometimes.


Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 22, 2013:

Thank you billy. You're right to say I should lay it to rest -easy in the daytime but not so during sleepless nights. Your comments made me feel a lot better. As always, I much appreciate your support. Ann

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on September 22, 2013:

Bravo! Well composed. thank you

Kari Shinal from AZ on September 21, 2013:

Thank you for posting this. I've spent many sleepless nights feeling similarly. Inspired to pull another poem out of the collection. Much appreciated.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 21, 2013:

Well, Ann, I hope you got some sleep and quite frankly, I think it's about time to lay to rest that guilt. My goodness, I wouldn't sleep at all if I continued to think of the pain I caused my parents. At some point I had to come to terms with it and move on.

I love your honesty and I love the glimpse of your family. Thank you for some very honesty writing.


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