Apr 10
poem challenge: Dark

In the dark moments

Sometimes as I
wait for sleep to come,
I pack up my thoughts and drop them into
other people's bedrooms--
friends, family, the kid I sat behind in class

I try to picture them in bed
Curled up? Lying flat?
Reading by pearly light or
trying in vain to undo today?

The man at the grocery store,
the girl on the bike with the yellow streamers,
the voice on the radio--
I don't know them.
Not even the classmates I've
labeled in my brain--
I can barely see into them, no clearer than
the nighttime outline of my familiar furniture.

Yet all these people lie in darkness now;
what is it that keeps them up?
I want to know who they are in the dark moments.

When the daily happenings--
people, mealtimes, work--
when they all fade into what was,
what parts of them linger?
What do they worry about and
what one hope do they
clutch to their chests
even if only
the promise that at this point,
their only job is sleeping?

It's these questions I can't answer,
far harder than wondering if
their bedspread is covered in horses or zigzags.

We pretend to know each other;
I paint people with the words smart and rowdy and careless
but there's so much more to everyone.
The air in the bedrooms I can't picture,
it's thick with everything about them that I never knew.

But we all have this in common, right?
We all find ourselves at night in our own worlds,
charcoal scrawlings of thought,
messy reflection and being so ready to be done with the day,
feeling alone, even if
maybe we aren't.

If we added up all the darkness--
the empty space, the worries, the hopes--
in everyone's bedrooms...

...how much would it be?