(n.) Pronounced- oot-key-are-a
An Old English word meaning
‘lying awake before dawn and worrying’
From Mark Forsyth’s – The Horologicon
Silver leaves flutter under closed eyelids,
a thrill of angst pulses the cold night air,
sleep is vanquished.
The darkened mind rifles through
all the turmoils of the day
seeking out the miscreant.
That wretched uhtceare,
that torments our peace
and will not leave rest unassaulted.
Over and over again go the worries
words and words and words
fretting the hours away till dawn.
‘This may happen’, it croons,
‘Or perhaps THAT!’
‘You cannot be too certain.’ it purrs.
Cackling at our tossing curled body
wasting away in exhaustion,
Uhtceare has its way with us.
Oh Cruel noun, little wonder
you are underused!
Who would dream of reviving you?
Lying awake, before dawn, worrying,
I ponder the Old English, Like the Eskimo,
a word for every nuanced discomfort.
It was enough to know this demon of the night,
without appellation, and now familiar like
an old friend, it waits, patiently for me.
‘How are you this night, oh somnambulant one?’ it whispers.
In a dash, mind snaps open and it is begun.
‘None too busy with sleep, now you are come…’