Crying It Out
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An ESME Poetry Showcase Award submission
You never knew how much you could crave it, crave anything. You crave it more than a woman who hasn’t had sex in seven years, more than a three-year fertility patient after her sixth IVF, more than a crack addict looking to score. This is not a craving of a pickles-and-ice-cream variety, some pregnant woman on a TV commercial for Taco Bell who wants something chewy and crunchy and cheesy all at once. Fuck chocolate cake. Fuck Dr. Sears and attachment parenting. Fuck the pediatrician who says let him cry. By the time your son is 10 months old and you haven’t slept more than two consecutive hours, you crave sleep so much you understand those women who put their babies in microwaves, overdose them on Benadryl. You literally aren’t seeing straight—everything in front of you curves, and there is a flashing light in the corner of your right eye that hasn’t gone away for days. Your hands are shaking, and you throw him in the stroller and push it over the hump in the kitchen floor and around the dining room, furious uncountable laps. And then you sit on the floor with both of them in your arms and you sob. You make potatoes and call your mother because mothers will do almost anything to help their children sleep. You think about all the Inuit words for snow and think about all the different kinds of sleep, kinds of fatigue, like different flavors of ice cream, all so marvelous you want each cool, sweet concoction, strawberry cheesecake, mint chocolate chip, rocky road. You’re so desperate you’d probably settle for a Tofutti rice dreamsicle or sugar-free vanilla. You crave them all: the one that hits you in the chest when you’re coming down with a cold, the progesterone-woozy drag through early pregnancy, the blur in your eyes when you’ve been awake since three in the morning and you’re finally ready to nod off. When the young resident gives you the depression inventory and diagnoses you with mild insomnia, you try very hard not to laugh in his face. You drink wine, you take a couple of Ambien, you put your son to your breast. The rocking chair moves back and forth in the moonlight, toward the calling dawn. Milk drips down his chin, fleur de sel and caramel. It has never tasted so sweet.