The Middle

by Cyn Kitchen

The middle of my fifties, I,
a middle child, meddle
with the idea of being, as they say,
on the wrong side of forty, waking
as usual, in the bull’s eye of night,
unholy heat rising from my
solar plexus. Peeling covers
off my damp flesh, this,
my awakening, bourgeois shuffle
among interstitial
doorways, first to the brew
pot, then window, where
I cup my cup & pull knees
close. Here is where I think about
beginnings & endings, far away
these days, from me, smack
in the middle of nowhere, which
in my defense, is exactly where I wanted
though I see now how it might work
against me in the grand tug & pull.

Average diplomat, my compulsion
always, to mediate, to bring the ends
together into balance, harmony,
Libra obsessed with the fulcrum,
let it not tip, I pray. Everything in moderation
like Paul the apostle which I take to heart
but that makes me no fun, loathe as I am
to go, like Billy Joel, to extremes.

My ex, the one in prison, not the one
in the ground, used to say, if you’re not
living on the edge you’re taking up too
much space. I left him at his precipice
to retreat into the centermost doll
of a matryoshka, here, surrounded by
cornfields under the expansive Midwestern
sky where I watch the sun go down
in flames at the end of each day, or the
middle as it were, depending on where you