P.J. Monroe's Published Writing

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Two Nights Without Electricity


A rare, perfect moment, the kind people constantly scour their childhoods for,

and that it happened in my adolescence makes it more amazing;

My sister and brother-in-law visiting from New York;

Mom grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner;

We all laughed and talked while we ate until the sky darkened,

as it is wont to do in the summer evenings in Maryland;

And then the rain came in big, fat drops;

Plop, plop, plop;

Inside, we played board games and talked and laughed and stayed up much too late;

Outside, thunder came and went;

Finally, we all headed off to bed;

And after teeth were brushed and pajamas put on and blankets crawled under,

the lights went out and it was pitch in our suburban house,

without ambient house lights inside and street lights outside;

My mother, my sister and I did not just fall asleep in the perfect darkness;

We did not roll over and listen to the thunder;

My mother, my sister and I crawled out of bed and made our way downstairs;

We all got candles, but the only candles we could find were long, thin tapers;

And there were no candleholders to be found;

I don’t know who first looked to the watermelon that was sitting on the counter;

I don’t know who first picked up the knife;

But soon, there were three candles sitting in that forgotten desert;

And we laughed so hard,

so hard we had tears running down our faces,

so hard I thought my bladder would burst,

so hard we did not hear the footsteps coming down the stairs;

My brother-in-law asked what was going on;

We pointed to the watermelon and started laughing even harder,

my mother and my sister holding on to the counter and each other

in order to keep themselves standing,

and me, doubled over and doing that Gotta Pee Dance;

And he just looked at us, as if we were insane


I was sifting through insomnia when the electricity withdrew;

My husband slept soundly next to me;

No storm brought this,

No reason I could fathom,

Except Com Ed sucks;

The motion sensitive light outside no longer lit up at the movement

of squirrels and stray cats;

The white noise of the air filter was gone,

letting in the noises of the city

and the house;

Every creak and groan of the old brownstone

made me jump;

And shadows in the light from the pollution filled sky,

which reflects the neon from blocks away

made me wary;

Was somebody breaking in?

Or is it just one of the pets wandering around,

as they must do every night?

The I-Could-Fall-Asleep-At-Any-Moment thoughts leave

and I am wide awake,

listening to my husband’s even, slightly whistling, snores

and the moans the indicate the cat is stretching, the rabbit is playing,

or the killers are coming to get me;

I don’t want to leave my bed,

though it might provide reassurance,

because it also might confirm my worst fears;

And my mother told me to never ask questions

which I don’t really want to know the answers to;

Light and noise flicker;

Husband stirs and rolls over and sleeps again;

Darkness settles in again;

I sit up,

waiting for whatever intruder I’ve imagined to appear,

and stay that way for the next five hours

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