Causes for Insomnia

I chose this poem due to the way that it describes the family surrounding a queer child and how it can be viewed from the parental viewpoint, particularly when the parents are disapproving of their child’s identity. This can be inferred from the term “mother of sorrows”, which is used in the second stanza of the poem. In this case it seems as if the parents do not truly love their child, almost as if they see the child as a placeholder for what the child they desired could have been.  

Later in this poem is described almost in terms of the child being a parasite, with descriptions of “in the autumn of his blood, he will siphon your heart to a child dying of thirst;”, showing how the child is not only not appreciated by his parents, but treated as a future burden to the parent, a ticking time bomb that will one day turn the sweet little boy that they were expecting into a “sweet little wreck” that must be checked on in a locked room. This shows how the child will turn into the parent’s worst nightmare, at least for the parents who, in the words of Eve Sedgewick, “would rather their kids be dead than gay” 

The name of the poem is most likely derived from the themes of dread within the poem. One major cause of insomnia can be not only being woken to care for a young child, but the dread and anxiety that some parents feel when their child doesn’t fit the perfect mold of what they wanted their child to be, and in the case of this poem, it can be interpreted as having both potential causes present. This poem can be a chilling look into the minds of parents who look down upon their child’s queerness, and fail to raise the child properly. 

One thought on “Causes for Insomnia”

  1. I chose “Insomniac” for my poem analysis too! I admire your connection to Eve Sedgewick’s words about parents wishing their children dead over being gay. With inspiration from your analysis I have found another sentence that can be connected to parental disapproval. In “History, according to a boy”, “Boy was so excited he did a little hop. Boy noted that his father’s smile dimmed” (88). Even though the father and boy are sharing a positive moment it is ruined by the fact the boy might not fall into the lines of heteronormativity. The dad plays the “mother of sorrows” and the boy I believe takes that role on too about his own self identity.

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