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Ever deal with battles at bedtime? Here is our resident poet’s take on the struggle to get a little one to finally go to sleep. Read and enjoy…
I pull her door closed again,
or nearly closed, since I know better,
drawing it toward the jamb with a practiced arm,
pausing at our precise line of compromise—
the angle where her longing for light from the hall
meets my only condition, sufficient shadow
for her to fall asleep.
All is quiet as I tiptoe away, holding my breath
because the act of exhalation might be taken
as a summons—then I settle in bed with a book,
claim my first long breath of the day,
and let my mind sidle into the story.
I have mentally defected when she appears
without warning, knocking me back to the world
where I’m a parent of a child with needs:
this time it’s a drink of water that for some reason
she can’t fetch for herself. That is my clue,
but I am tired and have been listening all day,
so what I hear is that our truce has been breached,
our short-lived ceasefire is over, and now this is war—
I spring out of bed and march her back to her room,
dropping a barrage of explosive rebukes.
By all accounts I seem to have won—
she is restored to her rightful place in bed
and the water is long forgotten—but it’s a paltry win,
if the reward is to retreat to solitude and a novel,
for I am in her space, still talking;
my blood pressure still escalating.
As soon as I fall silent
she produces a new excuse to keep me
in the room, and I see a slight smile surface
at the success of these guerrilla maneuvers.
But then one hand balls up to rub at her eyes
and a yawn escapes her now grinning mouth—
she is tired of fighting sleep single-handed,
and now that I’m there
she can lay down arms
© Sarah Dunning Park, 2012. All rights reserved. Used with permission.