Long Night

Patrick Faller
Feb 23 · 2 min read
Darren Bockman via Unsplash

After a long night talking
with a cousin about him,
I nearly passed out standing
while a priest led us in prayer.

Or so I later told friends.

The lie garnered a few laughs.
“How’d you not collapse?” one asked.
I wasn’t sure how to go
back on the story I’d told,
how to say my eyes’d closed
but no words’d come, no dreams,
nothing restful. I was ill,
like Grandpa; weak-willed, hapless.

Still, I was stuck inside it —
the lie, my life — and of course
the lie inspired little
creativity beyond
its creation. I’d been out
of time and luck, sleep-deprived,
while my friends’d landed jobs
and tucked themselves in nightly
to sleep well through to morning.

My folks’ minivan window
numbed the fat of my cheek, ear.
My mother’d used every stitch
of the tissues in her purse
before we got to the church.

Stepping to the podium,
I read from Paul’s First Letter
to the Thessalonians,
wondering about sleeping
in clouds, joining others
in sleep, and why asleep
was what Paul called being dead.

At the funeral luncheon,
I drifted downstairs alone
to run his trains. They’d be sold
in a few weeks — soon enough
dismantled, boxed up — leaving
a dustless patch on the bare
stone floor, exposing wall ribs
thin as a starving man’s own.

I flipped the switch. Houses glowed.
So did lampposts. Ice skaters
stuttered across a mirror
while skiers arrowed downhill
then disappeared. And nearby,
on a bench: a man asleep
on his back, blue knees lifted
as if he’d once been seated.
He’d broken off some other
part, piece. I couldn’t find where.

Patrick Faller

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When teaching, I aim to help students use writing to connect with their passions. When writing, I try to guide readers toward what they might have missed.