when the day runs out of hours

on a good day, the end begins by the time the little hand kisses the 9.

all’s done, on a good day, that needs to be done.

that’s the sweet hour when the sigh of my soul finally escapes. when the fat puffy cloud over my house, if my house was the star of a comic book, or a strip in the funny papers, that’s when the letters, emphatically strung into a word in the comic-book cloud hovering over my house, would spell out, quite bluntly, a short simple PHEW!

that’s the sound of my deep inner someone hanging it up, when at last the long mighty march through the day is a wrap, packed up on a shelf, over and out. al dente, as long as we’re at it.

the little one, on a good day, would be upstairs in his bed (at least till the first or second or third question pops in his head, and he tiptoes down, slithers ‘round corners, makes like a mouse and scares the behoozies outa me and the page i’m now ripping from fright). the dishes, they’d be tucked on the rack, their smeared little bits drying, waiting for rushes of hot sudsy water.

my long list, on a good day, is, by 9 in the nighttime, as X’d and checked and crossed off as it ever will be.

till the morning comes, and it all begins all over again.

on a good day.

on a not-so-good day, a day like the ones that’ve been strung together of late, knots on a rope dangling there in the seas, while the ship tosses and the winds whip and the lightning cracks through the black of the sky, on a not-so-good day, the end’s nowhere in sight.

might not be, even at the bewitchingest hour, when the little hand bangs into the 10, when the news squawks from the box, when all good children belong in their beds, and dreams should be well underway by that two-digit hour.

these days, though, seems the only way to get it all done, all the things that simply must be attended to, muscled, corralled into order, is to stretch the day. let it leak into the night. let one day ooze into another. pay no mind to midnight, you late-night marauder.

then, maybe, by the time your head flops on the pillow, by the time your bones groan as they stretch east to west, north to south, on a plane as flat as kansas when the wheat’s been mowed, maybe you’ll have just a wee slip of a sense that your day inched close to edge, to the place where what needed to be done, finally was. or at least came close enough to let you fall into slumber, relatively guilt-rinsed.

that’s the sort of day it was today.

my list was long, and i started early, and still i did not get to where i needed to be. the light high on the hill still shines, and i’m miles away.

been that way, day after day of late.

new job, plus a few assorted oddities, making me feel like a cook in the kitchen with pots and pans being tossed at my head. orders barked. someone wants toast. hold the butter. but the bread wasn’t stocked on the shelf. so you head out to the store, and on the way home, you fall in a puddle. bread’s all soggy, so you head back again. by then, customer’s mad, stormed out. so when you serve up the toast, at last, all un-buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, the table, it’s empty. ‘cept for a crumpled-up napkin, and not a penny in change.

that’s what it feels like.

so all the things that i love, the ones that bring me pure joy–catching up on the day with my boys after school, feeding the birds, plucking the heads off my blooms once they’re fallen–all those things, i barely can do any more. oh, i do ‘em all right. but condensed, hurried, panting for breath.

this world is like that too, too much, and too often besides. i think, every day, of the legions of mamas who never do have the chance to go slow. who, day after day, rush and hurry and juggle and spin on their heels.

i worry. ‘bout a world that mostly doesn’t slow down. ‘bout the buzzes and beeps and the phones that would ring all through the night if not for the holy blessed button that clicks it all off.

i worry about a world that has no more time to sit and to pore over the news of the day. has no time to wait for the schoolbus. or to be at the door when the backpacks come tumbling in.

i worry ‘bout little hands left to cut apples all on their own. and stories that don’t get told, and worries bottled inside till the nighttime comes, and then mama’s still working, so please rush up to bed now, it’s late. you need your sleep, and i need to keep working. so goes the refrain.

i worry when 9 ‘clock comes, and then 10, and still it’s not over.

a soul can’t go for hours and hours on vapors and promise.

a soul, and the heart that goes with it, needs down time. the blessed interlude between full-throttle day, and restless tossing and turning.

when the day runs out of hours, so too does the light that burns deep inside.

i’ve not got the answer. only the questions.

what kindles the light, when the day runs out of its hours? where comes the poetry, when all we can hear is the panting of a day, a day racing toward a finish that never quite comes?

soon as it’s still, i’ll listen for answers. i know they come, soon as it’s quiet.

dear people, i had every intention, really i did, of telling a fine story, one i collected for work but couldn’t quite tell. i’ll try, one of these days here, to unspool it. but in the meantime, tell me, do you have day after day that runs out of hours? where do you find your solace, your stillness? i found mine, at least for a few hours, in synagogue just yesterday. these are the days of awe, and awe is just what i need, what i hunger for….how ‘bout you?