Light a Candle (after…

Light a Candle

(after Millay)

She said her candle burned at both ends;
at eighteen this seemed wholly splendid
to burn yourself up, to go out blazing.
Maybe it would have been glorious.

Instead, I count the hours slipping past
and choose sleep when I can. The late-born
children make demands, their needs supersede
my desires, and if I stay out late now,
there will be no sleeping in to compensate.

Yet I am lark, not owl, by nature;
this is not so great a sacrifice, to lose late nights
dancing, sweat dripping down my spine, limbs
flung wide in wild abandon, exhaustion; it
was always a rare indulgence.

Mornings are harder to lose. The still hours
when I rose, still dark, to boil water,
cup the steaming tea, light a candle
and write. And write. Now, I must be abed
by nine, be up at five, if I want an hour before
the children arise. Or steal the time from sleep --
yet that theft would lose all, in the end.

There are always choices. So apologies, Edna,
but I choose this. Soft bodies coming down
the stairs, sweet-scented, to find their mother
hard at work. Shhchild. Five more minutes,
please. Here, snuggle up against my side; watch
the sky brighten. Don't knock over that candle.

*****
May 6, 2014

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