Our mothers proclaimed that nothing good
ever happens after midnight,
as if having us in bed
by the time the two clock hands
clasped at the top of the dial
would rescue us from sex
and mind-altering substances.
Our mothers wanted to save us
from what didn’t kill them,
deprive us of what they whispered
and winked about with old college friends
over too many glasses of wine.
They told us fairy tales where midnight
was the realm of ghosts and demons,
the hour when princesses turned into ordinary girls
who abandoned their suitors on palace steps.
Despite their best efforts,
we would learn for ourselves
how darkness can be expansive and
making possible what daylight only imagined.
We skinny dipped in the ocean
after beach patrol abandoned their post,
our bodies transient and harmless as the stars.
We danced until we spilled out of the club,
filling diners with our spikes and vinyl.
We drank until the bar closed,
then took the party to someone’s apartment.
We emptied bottles and filled ashtrays,
turned our friends into lovers,
conversation into revelation.
We watched the moon slip across the sky
like a strap loosed from its shoulder
without further thought.
After midnight was where we learned
what our mothers knew
but never could have taught.
Morrow Dowdle is a poet living in Hillsborough, NC. Her recent publication credits include Panoply, NonBinary Review, and APIARY. She is an active member of Living Poetry in the NC Triangle area. She also writes graphic novels, most recently An Unlikely Refugee in collaboration with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. She studied at Emerson College’s creative writing MFA program and currently works as a physician assistant.