Vacation, 2:30 am

Vacation, 2:30 am

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What about all those times when any kind of bed would have been a welcome relief:

…that night on the park bench in Pamplona
…the bucket seat on the ferry crossing from Ireland
…the overcrowded train car from Milano to Switzerland

But I had slept at least some on each of those nights without the pressure points of this deck-of-cards body; and there had been nights, like this one, with a bed, even at 20, when I couldn’t sleep…

… the Shrimp Diablo
…that night in Nice
…the mornings after cheating

And now the second margarita instead of supper at Happy Hour.

There are children
Without beds
With aching stomachs.

There are the ill and the aged and the terrorized.

Who am I to claim deprivation?

What of nursing mothers, teething toddlers, and the dying–and those tending them.

I should have had some dinner.
I should have skipped the indulgence of a second cocktail.

Should I have stayed home?
Never left the comfort of my bed?

Instead of writing now, at 2:30 am, with a view of the lighthouse, on a island across Saco Bay?

~

Sometimes I can’t bear the pain that lies ahead
So exquisite is the joy I’ve known.

~

I began writing at 18 to feel less alone.
I began offering my work at 36 so that others might feel less alone.

~

I am lying awake on a tiny strip of land beside the sea.
Who are these people in the passing cars and where are they going at 3:30 am?

~

I’ll close with  a poem for all those who are still awake.

The Sleepless Ones

What if all the people
who could not sleep
at two or three or four
in the morning
left their houses
and went to the parks
what if hundreds, thousands,
millions
went in their solitude
like a stream
and each told their story
what if there were
old women
fearful if they slept
they would die
and young women
unable to conceive
and husbands
having affairs
and children
fearful of failing
and fathers
worried about paying bills
and men
having business troubles
and women unlucky in love
and those that were in physical
pain
and those who were guilty
what if they all left their houses
like a stream
and the moon
illuminated their way and
they came, each one
to tell their stories
would these be the more troubled
of humanity
or would these be
the more passionate of this world
or those who need to create to live
or would these be
the lonely
ones
and I ask you
if they all came to the parks
at night
and told their stories
would the sun on rising
be more radiant and
again I ask you
would they embrace

~ Lawrence Tirnauer

(note: I first heard this poem read by author Dani Shapiro in her workshop, The Stories We Carry.)

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