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When I wake up in the morning after a night of restless sleep
The first thing I think to say to my partner is “I won’t be able to make dinner tonight.”
Dinner, dinner, dinner-- it’s all I care about.
Dinner is the sun that my world revolves around.

The truth is, I had to call in sick today (so turns out I will be able to make dinner).
After a few nights of only a couple hours of sleep, I don’t feel right.
I talk about 8 hours of sleep almost as much as I talk about dinner.
I nonchalantly ask coworkers and friends “how much sleep do you shoot for? How much sleep did you get last night?” (in the same vein-- “what are you going to have for dinner?”)
Just to get IDEAS and to have something to compare myself to.

I’m so impressionable.
I watch an indie film that is beautiful and disturbing and then I can’t sleep.
I’m envious of those people (my partner included) who can fall asleep just like THAT.
He falls asleep while he’s reading.
As soon as he gets in bed, he’s basically asleep.
There’s lots of people like that, I think, but I’m not one of them.
I have to mentally prepare, almost. I have to wind down.
And even though I wanted to watch it, and I chose it, watching an equally beautiful and disturbing indie film is not winding down for me,
(And neither is reading Blood Meridian, or any Cormac McCarthy book, for that matter).

Perhaps it’s the changing seasons, my mom suggests, and that could be.
But I was counting down the days, obsessively checking the weather forecast, WAITING for the days to cool down, and now that they are and it finally feels like autumn, I can’t sleep.
So maybe, afterall, my mind and my body are not always synchronized
And there’s possibly science in the fact that weather could disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm.

But I don’t need to figure it out right this second,
it’s fine.
Move back.
The halls will be yellow at the high school,
and the front office won't ever have changed.
The sixth-graders who paddled down the Little Miami
will have remained the same.

The hammock will sit stagnant,
waiting for that push-- that shake and bake, that slap and tickle.
A black lab rising up from the grave, smelly as all hell,
will be there to greet you.

Ride a red spray-painted bike down
deserted roads, see the same Mountain Dew bottle trash,
and ageless hollerin' neighbors:
the home-run derby crew.

Move back.
Watch lonesome blues whittled away,
and whispering softly,
"it's not you, it's not you, it's not you."
Written circa 2011
The sun shined down on our heads
At the pond, between clouds.
The water was cold.
A man adjusted his static-y radio behind us,
Tuning in the Tigers game.
I’d feel this way anywhere.

I decided,
I’d feel this way anywhere.
Surrounded by pine mountain beauty,
In a parked trailer in the forest,
In Southern Ohio, with friends, in a house
Driving in the van, between Kentucky and Tennessee,
With my parents, in the garage,
I’d feel this way anywhere, at least after a couple of days,
Especially after a couple of weeks.

I get restless, and wonder,
While I’m shovelling piles of mulch into a wheel barrow,
Why am I doing this? After graduating from college, why

I like the sun and working,
And Voltaire and everybody said go back to the garden,
Get back to the garden,
And in 2018 this is what that translates to,
On my knees spreading mulch with my hands
In an Astrophysicists’ backyard
Where there’s a fish pond, and big green shade
And we eat on the patio while him and his wife
Talk about how they built a cabin up north,
How they hauled the wood in three-quarters of a mile
And suddenly, I feel it again

I need to do that,
Why am I doing this when I could be doing that?
While I’m stacking dishes of breakfast foods on large trays,
And telling others I’m behind them,
Snow is falling silently outside and it feels good and bad.
When I’m quietly reading a book in a classroom,
And suddenly look up to realize I’m surrounded by 13-year-olds.
"How did I get here''?

In the spring I’m leaving.
I can go anywhere and no one suspects a thing.
I can drive around the nicest neighborhood.
No one bats an eye.
And even if they did, all I’d have to say is
I’m just driving around admiring the houses,
And they’d be placated,
They may even like that.
I can idle in my car outside their house
And chances are
No one will come out.
I shouldn’t idle though.
I can go to the library to use the bathroom.
Anyone can do that,
But no one will notice me.

I can make resolutions.
I can decide to stop doing this and start doing that.
I can walk on grassy mud, wood chips, leaves in dirt.
I can sit on the cold, stone bench outside the caretaker’s cottage and get rained on.
I can force eye contact with other walkers.
I can close my eyes for a spell in the grocery store parking lot.
I can go anywhere,
I can go alone.
Madeleine Toerne Aug 2018
All the brass of the knocked over train
The highway beacon: a fast food sign.
Clean and ***** bathrooms and outlet malls.
Drop me anywhere in America and
I could be anywhere.
On the outskirts of the city the same patterns,
The same sprawl --
Giving people comfort,
Giving me comfort I didn’t ask for.
The staples of the city I’d never heard of.
The chains lined up and linking arms
To keep us all enclosed.
The advising mother,
the unfamiliar demeanor.
The frustration in wanting to reach
Something genuine, flesh out a certain feeling,
And the isolation in not being able to.

— The End —