This appeared in The Literary Review in 1998. It’s also in my 2nd manuscript, currently seeking a publisher.
Can music really come from its notes?
Can this peace come from these words?
The pictures are subdued, in tattoo colors,
the twilight, no lights on yet, like water.
In the blue room Janine reads to Spencer,
who doesn’t want the day to stop. He settles
in the quiet shelter surrounded by her arm.
“This is the calf, the calf sleeps in the barn.
See the calf in the warm hay? Shh, the calf
is asleep. Sleep, calf, sleep.” At first Spence
helps turn the pages, to see ducklings in the nest,
puppies in the doghouse, ponies in the stables.
Sleep, robin, sleep, gosling, and “This is the baby.
The baby sleeps in the bed. See the baby
in the soft blanket? Shh, the baby is asleep.”
His eyes are barely open. He lies back, absent.
It’s time for me to head home, too. Shh.
There’s a mysterious kindness and softness
to the night, like the look in a dog’s eyes that
tells you she’s female. If the new moon gave warmth
it would feel like this: the dark warmth
of the black cat’s belly when she’s been sleeping.