And then you wake up at 2am
And you run through the quick-list of safety checks
(odd sounds? husband breathing? unidentified presence? lights on?)
To make sure
You think briefly of the late afternoon coffee you had (no caffeine after 12pm)
Before your thoughts shatter & pile up treacherously in your head.
And the sky is smeared with amber streetlights bouncing off the mist
And the rain on the window is irregular
And your neck throbs pain to a fine point in your temple
And the choices you didn’t make yesterday return with imagined consequences
And you remember gruesome stories about roaches living in people because
Your abdomen hurts & you think it must be roaches pickled in caffeine
And you want to start crying
But you don’t want to wake your husband
And you want to fill the glass on the nightstand with water
But you don’t want to wake the cat
And then the red numerals from the alarm clock tell you
The exact minutes of sleep you’ll be missing in the morning
And the blue light from the stereo reminds you that your melatonin levels aren’t right
(Clearly, because you are awake).
You’re never going to sleep again because the air is muggy & the arrhythmic rain interrupts your breathing & the false dawn outside is a reminder that you are lying to yourself about the amount of air you have left to breathe & will there even be a world tomorrow if we keep manufacturing plastics & lights & weapons &
Your hair has joined the harmony of pain between your neck & your head
And when your husband shifts uneasily in his sleep beside you
You try to keep your fear contained by counting backwards from 99 by threes
Because you love the threes table & the magical song created by children’s musicians
And covered by rock bands.
You get stuck at 90 & realize how stupid you are, you can’t even get
To the next number without saying 89, 88, 87 to yourself.
The clock turns to 2:45 am & the very fact almost
Brings you to tears again because of Elliott Smith.
Your neck pops and snaps when you move it
And your husband turns, somehow knows you’re awake,
Says sleepily, Are you ok? What are you doing?
Writing, you say.
You should turn a light on, he says and you mumble something
About writing by feel & the dim outline of the page and
Not wanting to wake him.
He complains about being cold despite burning up to the touch,
Like so often happens now at night, right before you go to bed.
You tell him everything is ok & tease him for not being able to keep his inner thermostat straight.
He keeps asking questions, making sure nothing else has happened or intruded here.
The cat is still downstairs and does not need to be fed,
The circling fan still hums,
The pillow is cool,
The rain quiets.
You arrange the covers better around you both &
Everything is ok.
Everything is ok.