Awake at 4am on Sunday: my brain’s cruel joke.
Unfinished work and arguments
rev my body, overheat my thoughts.
Sleep retreats, crowded out by
the non-stop, frantic, tense what-ifs.
Too much red wine last night. I have to pee
and drink some water. Maybe if
I take something for the headache.
Who are we kidding, brain? The sky is light
and I don’t yet know where we’re breakfasting
this morning. Please don’t let this blow my day.
Worry is a misuse of imagination,
and my imagination is mighty,
like Samson at the temple of Dagon.
Maybe a nap at noon.
You did a thing I didn’t like.
I ask you why and tell you how
I’m angry, sad. You nod. Your face
gets pink. Tears well, and roll, and drop.
You ask to change the subject but I keep
talking about it, hoping that
if I repeat myself enough,
next time you’ll make a different choice.
You’re miserable and hot with shame.
I want to stop but, equally,
I want you to think twice — thrice! —
next time, and this is all I know
to do. The shame and tears ring loud
and I don’t know if I’m doing
the right thing here. When do I know —
like, really know — I’m parenting
with wisdom, skill, and grace? Your joy
is not my always-goal. I want
to raise you right. At the same time,
I’m sad when you are sad. I want
to make it better, wipe your tears,
and buy us all an ice cream cone.
The Talk is over. When I ask
if you want a hug, you decline.
In separate corners now, we go
about our days, corrected and
correct. Ten minutes later we
are back to normal: laughing, light.