further down

The day skitters past her, 
shadowy and elusive. 

She reaches for it, 
but it slips and wriggles
like salmon fighting upstream, 
always upstream of her, 
just out of reach. 

The shadows lengthen, 
the sky greying 
as the fireflies 
punch through the gloom 
with their tiny lanterns
winking and winking. 

His face lights up 
in the flash of a match 
behind cupped hands,
and the scent of smoke 
snakes across the shadows
that lie between them, 

like the way he used to talk to her
back when they shared a bed, 
tangled up their limbs and lives. 

He was always a sharp breeze
away from closing off, 
always one whisper away 
from telling her he loved her, 
and she imagined some nights
after they'd finished having sex
that he'd grabbed her hair 
in his fists
and pulled her face to his
and kissed her open mouth roughly
instead of pushing her face
and open mouth down, 
always open mouthed
and sucking 
further down.

sleepy at dusk in June

I woke up at dawn this morning. I tried to stay curled up under the covers, 
convinced that I would eventually fall back to sleep if I laid still 
and closed my eyes, but as is becoming more and more common, it didn't work. 
It was another late night followed by an early morning, and I feel like 
part of me has been rubbed raw by sandpaper or the rough concrete
on the bottom of a pool. 

Today I was unproductive, sleepy and often incoherent. The highlight
of my day was when the kiddos went out to pick black raspberries in the yard. 
I gave them a plastic bucket, and they tried to keep from eating them all 
before they even made it to the bucket. In the end, they had a heap 
of maybe two cups of berries or so. I sprinkled on sugar and added 
a splash of milk, and they were so happy. It's a simple summer ritual, 
one of the things I'll miss about living on a farm. 

Now it is almost dusk. The light's just starting to fade. I am sleepy, 
lightheaded and warm. I want nothing more than a long sleep 
in an air conditioned room, a glass of cold milk and either some soothing
music or the sound of rain. 

A couple of months ago, I bought several tracks of nothing but the sound
of water. One was the sound of rain falling. One was a babbling brook. 
Another was the sound of an underwater stream. Each track was close to
an hour long. I put them in a playlist I call my rain playlist, 
and sometimes I fall asleep listening to them. It's this hushing sound, 
soothing, similar to white noise or the whir of a fan in how it calms 
me down and makes my thoughts slow and my body relax. 

Now it is dusk. The fireflies are starting to come out. They're flickering
across the fields and in the treetops. I love fireflies. I love the way 
they make the balmy summer evenings seem magical. I love the way they 
remind me of my childhood, of evenings spent chasing them, catching them 
in between cupped palms and then setting them free and watching them 
fly away. 

Fireflies remind me of cold watermelon and fireworks. They remind me 
of lying on a quilt in my grandma's front yard, as my aunt and uncle 
set off fireworks and, for just a little while, life seemed okay, 
my family seemed okay and I felt like, if only for an evening,
I actually fit in. 

Now, every year, my neighbors set off fireworks, and we walk 
across the field and over by the barn so we can see better. 
I plan on getting the kiddos some sparklers if the grass isn't too dry
and I think they can keep from burning the ends of their fingers 
as the sparks fly. 

It's dusk. I'm sleepy. Once again, I'm going to bed alone.
I don't mind this much. I actually prefer it. I get to sleep
on one side of the bed for part of the night and the other side
for the rest of it. I am selfish with the covers. I hoard the pillows. 
I am always switching to the cool side of the bed. 

Sometimes I remind myself that I won't always be this alone
nor this lonely. Someday things will be different. Someday. 
But for now? Enough writing. I worry if I write much more, 
I'll expose parts of myself that I want kept secret, 
hidden rooms that I deny exist within me.