Ode to Those First Fifteen Minutes After the Kids Are Finally Asleep

Praise the couch that welcomes you back into its embrace
as it does every night around this time. Praise the loose
cereal that crunches beneath your weight, the whole‐grain
golden dust that now shimmers on the backside of your pants.
Praise the cushion, the one in the middle that sinks like a lifeboat
leaking air, and the ottoman covered in crayon stains that you
have now accepted as aesthetic. Praise your knees, and the evening
respite they receive from a day of choo‐choo‐training along the carpet
with two eager passengers in tow. Praise the silence, oh the silence,
how it washes over you like a warm bedsheet. Praise the walls
for the way they stand there and don’t ask for anything.
Praise the seduction of slumber that tiptoes across your eyelids,
the way it tempts you to curl up right there and drift away
even though it’s only 7:30 p.m. Praise the phone you scroll through
without even realizing that you’re scrolling, praise the video
you scroll past of the man teaching his dog how to dance merengue,
praise the way it makes you laugh the way someone laughs
when they are so tired they don’t know if they will ever stand
up again. Praise the toys scattered across the floor, and the way you
wonder if it might be okay to just leave them there for now,
since you know tomorrow they will end up there again.

Excerpted from Above Ground by Clint Smith. Copyright © 2023 Clint Smith. Available from Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.