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January 2018
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This 'n That
by Anne Vargas

 

Anne Vargas
Anne Vargas
sleeping

After another a night of tossing and turning and fretting over my stockpiled worries, I was attempting to explain to my husband what was keeping me awake this time. He has an annoying way of not taking me seriously when I convey my pre-dawn concerns, patting me on the back and saying it will be better in the morning. But what are we going to do with all those decanters?

We need to get rid of the stuff! I feel smothered by the things we steadily attained during the “acquisition” chapters of our marriage; now we need to move to the “disposal” stage. Those heavy crystal decanters from Czechoslovakia were purchased when we were military nomads living in Europe; now I lie awake wondering how to get rid of them. Why did we ever think we needed them in the first place? And no one wants the family heirloom china; what do we do with that? Is it fair to expect our children to make these decisions after we are gone? There are places that accept donations; I should write a list of instructions. And I really should update our telephone listing but I am having trouble with the computer and I probably need a new one. But what if I don’t understand the new operating system? Should I write our obituaries now so the information is accurate? And I can’t remember the password for our bank account even though I made a list of all the passwords because I can’t remember where I put that list. I should file everything carefully and label it all but the filing cabinet really needs to be reorganized. If I rearrange my office it would be much more efficient but before I can transfer anything into the garage I will have to clean that to make room. And my wonderful doctor is retiring and what if I don’t like his replacement? And what if he doesn’t like me? I don’t think I am drinking enough water. And is the flab on my middle just age related or could it be a tumor? And who is that woman I ran into at the grocery store who remembered my name but I can’t remember hers? And why are the brown spots on my hands multiplying? And why am I thinking about things like this when people are seriously suffering as they deal with fire and freezing temperatures. Disasters are happening everywhere. We should keep the gas tank full and blankets and water and important paperwork in the car in case we need to leave in a hurry. But what are we going to do with those decanters?

My husband is right about one thing; things usually do seem better in the morning but I still have way too many nights like this. I have long been of Judith Viorst’s wonderfully witty decade poems so it was vastly comforting to read one of her latest, which I invite you to enjoy below. Someone else does this. Someone else understands. I have a kindred spirit.

clock

The clock in our bedroom
says 2:17 in the morning.
I want to be sleeping
except I am thinking about
what I should serve at our
dinner party next Friday.
And do we remain in
the stock market or
get the hell out.
Whether the grandchildren
know not to
go with a stranger.
Whether I ought to
consider replacing my knees.
If it is actually true that
my lab tests are normal
or is nobody telling me
I have a fatal disease.
And why I am thinking
such thoughts at what
the clock now says is
3:38 in the morning.

When I ought to be sleeping
except I can’t sleep on my
stomach, and also can’t
sleep on my left side or
my right side or my back
because I am wondering
if I turned off the oven.
When to expect the
next terrorist attack.
Whether we now have too
much or too little insurance.
What can be done about
my expanding behind.
Why other mothers
get calls from their
sons every Sunday.
Whether, if given the choice,
to choose deaf over blind.
And how come I am
asking these questions at
what the clock now says
is 4:26 in the morning.

When I need to be sleeping
except I am prompted to
ponder the briefness of life.
Also Eternity.
Also the Void.
And how to prevent polar
bears from being destroyed.
I list all the presidents up
to John Quincy Adams.
I add up the trips to
the bathroom tonight.
I try to retrieve the
name of my orthopedist,
The capital of Wyoming,
the French word for "right".
I tally the losses sustained
by my brain and my body,
Though none by either my
weight or my appetite
Or by the number of
things that still remain
to be worried about
When the clock in our
bedroom says is time to
get up in the morning.

Judith Viorst