Learning to ride, falling down, getting back on
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These days I wake up tired / after hours skimming sleep’s / surface like a hungry bird, waiting. / They say it’s a fact of growing older, / to lose the skill for sleep infants / and teenagers effortlessly have.
I wake at 2:34 AM and lie in bed staring at the ceiling for a couple of hours, beating myself up for having awakened way before it’s time to get up.
You’re not really exhausted until the hallucinations start: Droplets of mercury floated in my peripheral vision. A lemon levitated out of the fruit bowl. A streetlight at the corner of State and Garfield laid its long body down on the sidewalk. The cat looked up at me from the corner of my desk, twitched his muzzle, and said, “Libby, Libby, Libby.”
The rooms were filled with the smells of food. The only sounds were those of the house slowly settling around us, and the birds outside in the walnut trees, and an occasional car going by on the blacktop road.
She sits in the kitchen with coffee and a view of the soft rain. This is her early-morning time alone and always the best part of the day, before he awakens and she must adjust to his moods, his needs. This, her hour of resolve — not to do anything in particular, but only to bear on through the morning.
I turn off the lamp and ease myself into the hand’s-breadth space between Rob and the wall. In the dark he places my fingers on the supple frets of his ribs, showing me simple chord changes. He murmurs throaty Gaelic into my ear, and I rub his stomach as if he were a sleepy child. We fold against each other like the pages of a letter.
No matter who’s elected president, writers will write. Painters will paint. Three in the morning will still be three in the morning. The door in our psyche we don’t want to walk through will still be just down the hall. No matter who’s elected president, life will hand us the invisible thread that connects us all; love will hand us the needle.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses; sixteen yellow, legal-size pages; the Sea of Tranquility
Everything of my brother’s fits on a couple of shelves: boxes of records, books, a few photographs. When you’re killed at eighteen, you don’t leave much behind.
The universe will let me know when I’ve worn out my welcome. Until then, why don’t I make myself at home?