Poem: Sleep Out On the Balcony


Drag out the yellowed foam pads
Eggcarton shape, unwieldy
And sleeping bags
Brown and green outside
With ducks and cattail print flannel inside

Zip the sleeping bags together
To make room for two or three kids

Arrange and rearrange
Endlessly change
The layout
On the green artifical turf

Night fall
Watch the stars
And the clouds
And hope it won’t rain

Talk about boys
Wonder if they could
Climb the rope ladder
To sneak up here

If they knew we cared
That is

Tiptoe back inside
Past snoring mom and dad
Go in for water
And go in to pee
One trip
Encourages another

The screen door slams
Behind us
One too many times

Like a mummy
Says loudly
And sternly
“You kids
Need to go to sleep

Finally quiet
In our bags
The awesomeness of the idea
Disappears suddenly
When a strange noise is heard.
And then fear overtakes all
When no noise at all is heard.

All kids end up in a scared bundle
In one double bag
Convinced it will be better
To be together

The only sound now
Is the buzz of a mosquito or two
One wonders if the mosquitos will bite?
No, we are too sly
We will tuck our heads
Down into the protection of the flannel ducks

But when morning breaks
We are freezing
The pad
The sleeping bag
The kids
All askew
The plastic green carpet
Damp with morning dew
The green artificial turf strands
Poke our cheeks
And dent our skin
In enviable patterns

We count each mosquito bite
As an itchy trophy
Who has the most bites?
25! 56! No way! Count again! 63! Let me count!
Who won?
The mosquitoes!

We are damp and itchy
Cold and hungry
And really have to pee

And that’s how it always ends
When we
Sleep out on the balcony


About the poem:
Staying at the house where I grew up, when I turn a corner or see something, suddenly I remember something like this! The many many nights we slept out on the balcony, with our sibl

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