Midnight to 2 A.M.

Fall, 2022 / No. 50

The youngest screams every night.

Every night, they are molten rage and you are cold

because you don’t wear pants to bed 

and their room is the furthest from the furnace.

And you wish you were your mom because

she always had a robe on in the middle of the night, and

she always knew what to do, 

and you never know what to do and you don’t even

own a robe.

And they are screaming,

and now they are is throwing things—

dogs and birds and cats

fly through the air and collide with

the wall,

the IKEA dresser that is covered in stickers,

the bed they refuse to sleep in.

Instead, they have made a nest on the floor 

because they are more animal than child,

unless they are snuggling you, and then they are all animal,

and you wish for a moment that you could be birthing them again

to remember the animal you were before the words returned.

They scream and throw and the room crackles.

They whip a panda and it bounces off the bookshelf

and you want to turn your phone on

and stare at small curated squares, 

anything to take you away from this room, this rage, this animal child.

And then a pause,

the tiniest pause,

a pause you almost miss, but if you catch it, 

this half-breath,

you can ask if they want to count the stars,

and sometimes they will look at you 

and throw a handful of Shopkins at your face,

and sometimes they will look at you and fold into your shoulder,

and you will carry their hiccupping weight down the street in
your underwear.

And you will pray there are no clouds,

you will pray for even just one star so you are not a liar.

Sometimes you call a satellite a star 

because it is one in the morning and you need a win.

Even though they are big, so big, 

you will sway down the sidewalk 

the way you did when they were a newborn, 

passing your neighbours’ dark windows,

their arms around your neck, 

and you will play I spy—

I spy with my little eye something with a striped tail that is running between the houses.

I spy with my little eye something that is moving behind the
garbage can.

When you cannot hold them any longer,

you will carry them upstairs, and they will lie in their nest,

and you will lie in your bed, eleven steps from their soft, sleeping breath, 

and you will look up robes, terry cloth, you think,

You pick a colour that will blend into the corner of their midnight room,

navy blue, maybe, with pockets.

You type in your Visa number. 

You pay for expedited shipping.

You lie in your bed while the rest of the house sleeps, 

and wait for it to arrive.