Mom— I’m not much of a sleeper.
It’s always 1 AM when I really start thinking.
And where was I, when your world became a pit?
Was I even born yet?  Be honest, did the sky ever darken
in such a way that made the stars look like dust drifting down
from heaven; like a slow but fearsome storm approaching?
Do you ever lie awake at night, like me, and think about
the creation of crayfish? About what God truly would have
wanted from mankind?  Does it mean anything to you that we
shared the same childhood home, a house that was slightly haunted?
Mom, be honest with me—have you ever held a gun in your hand?
Did you ever stand in the acrid-aftermath of a July downpour,
right when the puddles have gone still?   Have you ever smelled
the moon—that spent-powder-scent of creation?  I hope not.
I hope and I hope and I love you.  You, who are also not a sleeper.
You, who might also be awake tonight and thinking.  And yes,
I have held a gun, heavy as my eyes when I finally fall asleep;
a sleep that always comes because you taught me to let it.
To choose sleep, you said, is to have faith that you will wake up
the next day; a contract with God, or something even larger.
So I’m shutting my eyes for the night, if that helps you worry less.
We can both go to sleep now.

John T. Leonard is an award-winning writer, English teacher, and poetry editor for Twyckenham
Notes. He holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University. His previous works have appeared in Poetry Quarterly, december, Chiron Review, North Dakota Review, Roanoke Review, Punt Volat, High Shelf Press, Rappahannock Review, Levee Magazine, Mud Season Review, The Blue Mountain Review, Genre: Urban Arts, Stonecoast Review, and Trailer Park Quarterly. His work is forthcoming in The Showbear Family Circus, Passengers Journal, and The Oakland Review. He lives in Elkhart, Indiana with his wife, three cats, and two dogs. You can follow him on Twitter at @jotyleon and @TwyckenhamNotes.

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