One A.M.


You are no stranger to me, odd hour. For so many reasons I've grown to know you, and your early-hour brethren, at age 35 more than many people do in their entire lives. The latest explanation involves jetlag, of the westward-direction variety.

I'm here, in a hotel room, in rural Wisconsin, enjoying a peace that floats through the blackness that veils the beige, stubby remainders of corn stalks. It mutes the pleasant eyesong of perfectly round hay bales that whiz past the car windows along the way to see my dad.

This morning, you, my early-hour friend, give me a chance to feel and remember yesterday in the context of a relationship--yesterday, the day I watched someone go through something that resembles a plane hitting a building, challenging it to its foundation.

He's not weak, my dad, in any way. I've honestly never known him to have so much as a cold. But this chemical that researchers are working all the time to improve, has him leaning on things, unable to think, smiling shyly and heading off to bed at 3:30 pm.

And I think of him, in the quiet of this odd hour, and hold nothing back from myself because there's nobody to be strong for, not an ear to hear what comes out of the deepest silence, of One A.M.