Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Gatekeeper

I haven’t slept a full eight hours
in probably about 14 years.
I will usually go to bed around 11 or midnight,
like a lot of people,
but I wake up every night,
at 3:23 a.m., on the dot.
I am wide awake then,
and I won’t be able to go back to sleep
until I go to the front door
and see who’s there.

I don’t always see anything,
but most nights I do.
A bitter old man,
a gaunt young woman,
two bewildered teenage boys,
a hissing possum.
That was just in one night!
I have to lead them to the garden shed in the back
and open the door.
They walk in and disappear.
Then my job for the night is done.

I don’t know why I was chosen for this,
or what would have happened if, say,
I worked midnights at a gas station.
I don’t really know what happens to them after.
Some are very sad,
some are relieved,
some look distracted
like there was something they were just about to say
but forgot.
I don’t really know what to say.
So most of the time, I don’t say anything,
but I try to look kind behind my bleary eyes.
A smile and a nod,
close the door behind them.
Head back into the house
refill the dogs’ water bowl.
A quick gulp of water
from the glass next to the bathroom sink.
Then return to my warm bed.

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