Essay

Dispatch #064

And the Pleiades, Midnight

By: Alexandra Kostoulas

Moon has set

          and Pleiades: middle

          night, the hour goes by,

          alone I lie

 -Sappho

I say this. 

And yet I am always with people.

The last few nights of the pandemic, I have been imagining myself stealing away into the empty apartment upstairs that our neighbors moved out of and putting my feet up on an imaginary chair and having a cup of tea. Their apartment is the same as ours, but without the clutter. I yearn to go up there and sit in silence. I feel guilty leaving but I go anyway.

Sometimes during the long pandemic days, there is no place where the children end and I begin.

There is always, baby on my hip and laundry going. There is always a dirty stove and a full sink. There is always an unmade bed and messy hair. I am always tired. 

There is always another demand on me. Something pressing. 

Sometimes I sleep so little I get the chills, worry if it’s COVID, allergies and then asthma.  Maybe it’s just sheer exhaustion. And then I can’t sleep.

Today was the deadliest day of the pandemic.

Instead of watching the news, I took the day off and watched a Christmas movie with the kids on repeat. Their little eyes, their hearts, their sprits are so pure. They still believe in goodness, in light. They want to be happy. They play and have fun. They have no idea what is going on right now all around them. 

They don’t know that our hospitals are at capacity, or that we have a madman for our president. That our congress is sitting in the villas debating on whether or not they should pass the next relief package.  

I have shielded them and will continue to shield them from what I can, from the vitriolic rage that has gripped half the country, from a president who is trying to have a coup, from the relatives who are going off the deepend, declaring it’s the end of days. 

Here I lie alone, first time all day when people are not wanting things from me. 

The twinkling garish Christmas tree decorated by a toddler, sitting at my feet. 

My pleiades–a wooden star I made with my son from purple glitter glue when he was two hangs where he insisted it should go on the Christmas tree.

Up again at the midnight hour—the time of all moms.

December 2020

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