“A Methodical Approach to Sleeping Alone” by Hallie Nowak


Step 1: Light a candle. Break some incense.

Step 2: Admire the pile of dirty clothes at the foot of your bed. (Look, but don’t touch.)

Step 3: Turn off the lights to hide the pile of dirty clothes at the foot of your bed.

Step 4: Sit down on your bed that is too big for just you and barely close your eyes.

Step 5: Remember the fingertip of the first snowflake of winter on your eyelash.

Step 6: Remember the time that you locked yourself out of your apartment on Christmas Eve.

Step 7: Forget that you’re alone.

Step 7: Forget that you’re alone.

Step 7.5: Remember that you’re alone under the swollen moon and the pinpricks of stars and the cold, clear voice of winter. Everything leaks through the hairline crack in your window. A breeze bursts against your sallow midriff.

Step 8: Pluck the petals from your skin and carefully stack them on the corner of your bedside table. Admire the way they wilt, that dusty scent of your loneliness.

Step 9: Are you alone,

Step 10: Brood about the way you squeeze the toothpaste the wrong way.

Step 9: Or are you lonely?

Step 11: Get out of bed. Check your dim reflection obsessively. Note the discoloration under your eye. Note that the discoloration under your eye is the ashen scarf tangled in the bare fingers of branch in Moody Park. 

Step 12: Stroke the sad subtle indent his body left in your memory foam mattress.

Step 13: Make yourself cry.

Step 14: Weep until you feel a spirit leave your gasping mouth. 

Step 15: Flip the damn pillow over.

Step 16: Remember that the human capacity for love is infinite. Remember to lock the door to your house. Remember that your roommate makes breakfast for dinner. Remember to watch for shadows of men in the street. Remember that IHOP is open 24/7. Remember to brush your teeth. Remember the inky kindness in your cat’s eye. Remember the warm breve latte in your hand at Old Crown. Remember to feel everything. Remember to feel nothing. Remember that you are a Scorpio. Remember that everyone is alone: that no body is alone.

Step 18: The snow outside the window collects onto the glass pane next to your bed. The portable heater says 79 degrees. Your loneliness collects thin shards of ice. Your bed is warm. Your pillow is cold. How beautiful it is to be warm in a room collecting snowbanks. How beautiful it is to be not lonely; to be completely and irrefutably alone: 

in dreams; in sleep; within; without; alone.


Hallie Nowak is a poet and artist writing and residing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she is in pursuit of her undergraduate degree in English at Purdue University Fort Wayne. She is the author of Girlblooded, a poetry chapbook (Dandelion Review, 2018). Her work can also be read in Anti-Heroin Chic, Honey & Lime, Okay Donkey, and Noble/Gas Qrtrly where her poem, “A Dissected Body Speaks,” was awarded runner-up for the 2018 Birdwhistle Prize. 

Twitter: @heyguysimhallie
Instagram: @hallie_nowak


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