4am//4pm

4pm//

The pending. Reach for coffee (“but it’s just a little one”). Sly and percolated, the idea of a nap.

The nannies are tired. They wish their kids were too.

2am for the cardiologist beneath blackout curtains, forehead stamped with ownership from the face shield.

Gently polishing wine glasses behind the bar with music blasting on Third Street — talking shit with the cooks before classical and dimmed lights.

Top 40’s queued up with listener polls on which celebrity wore it best, car dealership-sponsored forecasts.

A strobe flashes at the humid Northfield Middle School pool, exploding into a butterfly across maroon and gold one pieces.

The sun vanishing immediately inside Otters, swinging in just for one drink in the triangle-shaped dive.

Staring from the windowsill, waiting for the mail and a $1 birthday card.

Counting. The minutes. 3:57, 3:58, 3:59 ½…

Croissants pulled from the oven at daybreak are bagged — unable to escape in crinkly white bags today.

Yellow buses bumping with breath on windows, traced into tiny stars.

TV dramas settle in with ironing boards in suburban living rooms.

Not cozy enough for the morning, not edgy enough for night.

Fridays so sweet and slow with early bird traffic.

A lighter feeling of spontaneity, a halfway delight.

Heaviest of heat — the sun is strongest and most ready to burn.

Light casts across windowsill seeping through monstera and philodendron, silent and silky, begging for a walk outside.

Ellen settles into her audience of flat screens propped on folding seats, with a vying and vague apology.

Tim Walz and his spunky sign language friend wrestle with the press for new announcements.

“Wrong path, buddy.” Chides a biker to another across Lake of the Isles boulevards.

Chapters to be finished, responses to be crafted before deadline.

Target high time. Loads of toilet paper and to-go dinners with the afternoon’s acidic Starbucks. The teenager cattle driving us through self-checkout.

We walk and walk and gasp at the brick houses in golden light.

Take Instagram stories of the street tunnels of changing leaves. We stop ourselves from petting their resident stray cat. Mr. Sprinkles, he must be called.

//4am

The urge to wander back underneath a blanket while leaning into the heating vents that gasp life into your car.

Photo by Alexander Possingham on Unsplash

Tinkles of phone speakers scream out into a snoring void, their songs snipped as quickly as they appeared.

No matter where you are, you think of the bakers.

The 4:30 shift calls, without it we’d all crumble like the under proved bread. The lights flick on underneath the low and heavy moon and 90’s R&B blasts to life — five notches up if it’s Saturday.

Stretching floury spines of baguettes and trying not to cough cinnamon into the air.

Wandering to quiet a mind. Only the most committed gym-goers, shaking off sleep into a futile sprint.

Semitrucks hissing into loading docks bringing industrial-roasted coffee grounds and cases of chips to stock Kwik Trip shelves.

Freezer light illuminating the Girl Scout cookie stash, paired with milk directly from the carton.

The 4am’s clock out, pacing quickly across their hostile Northside parking lot, wishing themselves into the car faster. Paint chipping off the highway-facing Jesus mural.

She wakes suddenly in a bed she does not recognize. Hands around her waist, twitching in sleep. Sigh.

Fumble for light switches and knocking over nightstand glasses and shaking out an Advil.

Night owls claiming to love the night but feeling the loneliest. Extra checks behind your back walking on pavement glowed by periodic red and green light.

Police cruisers hoping to catch the last of the late-night action.

A lady of the night in shadows, pressing an index finger into the bruise.

TSA workers pacing around the empty crowd spacers. Pull your mask down when showing ID, please.

Being as light-footed as possible, backing out of the nursery slowly, waiting for the inevitable wail.

Scrolling through old photos to fall back asleep, remembering tanned faced sticky with confetti from a First Avenue pride party, mingled and sweaty with the others.

Joel Osteen preaches and the best QVC feature on hot dish trays you ever seen roll in banners across the screen.

Medications pulsed through an IV on the early rounds. Tired eyes searching for family through an iPad screen on wheels.

Blues slowly lighten, your hand in the dark slightly more visible.

My grandmother, with a bible, in her recliner. Highlighter in one hand, rosary beads rolling in the other.

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