National Poetry Day

Every night now

I wake up at 3, 5, and finally, at 7:30 am

Of course, at my age, that’s not so bad

But the reasons for each startled wakefulness vary with the hour

but each time has the same feeling of dread

the same balloon of anxiety in my stomach, so I turn on the light and listen

listen for breathing in the next room

listen for cats galloping down the hall and across the furniture

listen for a rattle of a doorknob, a slither of foreign fabric creeping down the hall

I read for a few minutes until the words blur and I slide back into dreamland

the last wakeup is more a silent alarm of my fat boy jumping on the bed and aiming

for the window sill above my head

Sometimes, he slips out and falls, scrambling away to my startled invectives

as the blood starts to ooze out of the scratches dotting my arm like a roadmap of pain

His thinking is simple.  She’s up. I’m hungry.  My work is done.

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