T.R. Hummer’s “Where You Go When She Sleeps” is a poem that evokes a dreamy, surreal moment in time, as a man (the speaker) falls in love with the woman sleeping with her head in his lap. The poem is a run-on sentence, trawling through the color of the woman’s hair, a color the man can’t quite name, to a story of a boy the man had heard once. The boy drowned in a grain silo, and it is through this golden pallet of grain and dust in sunlight that the reader learns the woman is blonde.
The poem is full of comparisons like this, as the woman’s hair reminds the man of grain and golden color of sunlit dust, which in turn leads into the story of the drowned boy, which in turn is a metaphor for falling in love, drowning in it. As mentioned above, the run-on quality of the poem allows a smooth transition from topic to topic, and lends itself to a drowsy, dreamlike tone.
Surprisingly, Hummer brings us back to reality with the last two lines, which reflect back to the start of the poem, referring to the content of the woman’s dream, and the man’s potential place in it.