Middle Night

No joy in knowing 3:20 in the morning.
Ask the bus driver saddled with third shift;
she’ll tell you.
The derelict loneliness,
the empty seats,
the ones and twos
who mumble to the themselves indecipherably,
possibly, she fears, how to take their own lives,
or hers.

Ask a woman in labor,
groping in the darkness for her shoes.

Ask the insomniac
swallowed inside a cloakroom,
so many buttons to count.

Ask a pilot over Nebraska.
No jigsawed fields of soybean,
no pinwheeling turbines
to break up the circumnavigation
and the nuts have gone stale.

Ask me and I may collapse into you,
begging for a secret.
How do you make the heart slow down?
How do you help your body
remember how to rest?

Don’t even think of asking the overnight security guard.
You won’t like his answer.

Christy Prahl is a philanthropy professional, foraging enthusiast, and occasional insomniac. Her past, current, and future publications include The Bangalore Review, Peatsmoke, Boston Literary Magazine, High Shelf, Blue Mountain Review, Twyckenham Notes, and others. She is also the editor of the literary compendium A Construction of Cranes (Plastic Flame Press, 2020). She splits her time between Chicago and rural Michigan with her husband and plain brown dog.

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