Sleep Less

May 21, 2016

I sat sleepless in the dark livingroom last night, 1 a.m. A prolonged wail rose up from the field across from my front yard. I took my glass of wine and sat on the front porch step, and listened. An occasional car sped by on the highway. The wail stopped.

=It might have been fifty degrees out; it felt quite chilly and exhilarating. I wore jeans and a black tee shirt, and I was barefoot.  It was cold enough that there were no insect noises.

The yard and fields beyond were lit by a three quarter moon, and the starlight through the leafed out branches of the creaking trees seemed like Morse code signals, dot-dot-dash. For some reason, I thought of Tennessee Williams, of “Stella” standing longingly and watching the moon. And then I remembered that baby Stella, the daughter of my neighbors, had seen me in the afternoon and held out her chubby arms and let me hold her: Stella by sunlight.

And one more light appeared, a tiny pulse on and off, moving west to east just above turned soil. It was a firefly or Tinkerbell, one or the other. A May firefly would be a pioneer, appearing long before its cousins, before the summer heat. If it was looking for a girlfriend, it was flat out of luck.

I heard a slight commotion coming from my side porch area. It sounded like muffled squeaking. And then they appeared to me, a mother skunk and three fluffy, mewling babies, walking in a straight line, past me to the brush pile and on in. They had been on an adventure—if skunks have adventures. I had smelled skunk the night before, so I wasn’t too surprised and

shadows creep and

“whooo-ahhhhh!” a barred owl and “whew!” the skunks and

farm dogs barks and the echo makes more canines bark chain-erupting all the way north and the cell tower near Airport Road blinks on the horizon and

“whew” the people of Earth and

field mice scamper in the moonlight and redheaded woodpeckers snooze in holes beak-drilled in the tops of utility poles and bobcats crawl on their bellies and coyotes chew their tails and drunks tell their tales and all-night poker players watch for tells and drug sells on Third Street and lunacy (lyrical lacy lascivious lollipop guild) and then

we sleep.


About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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