The distant yard light print shadows of
timber like veins across the edge of the bed.
The dog squeaks a yawn.
I feel in the air the breath
and sleepy rhythm of each mound
of person in each bed as I pass on the way to
the little one at the end of the hall.
She raises her arms up high, her voice
singing out to me sharp and desperate.
I bring her back to my covers.
She presses her round, doughy cheeks
against my skin,
pats my stomach to match
the rhythm of her gulps.
Sleep and wake blur,
around the picture of her next to me.
She wakes and comes to her hands and knees
between him and me.
She sits a moment, pondering where
she is, then drops her velvety head
squarely on my neck, jolting my pulse.
I realize I must choose between
breathing and waking her.
My breath gets shallow as I attempt a compromise.
I roll her into her daddy’s arms.
He pulls her onto his chest, in the rote
movement, done without waking.
It must be at least 15 minutes,
maybe 2 hours
before he whispers, “Should we bring
her back to her bed?”
He can’t keep sleeping with her there. The body
warmth makes them stick like glue,
though he can’t bear to move her.
“5 more minutes,” I say.
I push away the weight of sleep to see
my 2 loves resting together,
cheek to chest,
carve into memory this picture,
enjoying the stillness of my soul.
The fan in the hallway plays its
low, sustained note.
Her dimpled hand rests on his shoulder.
I carefully peel her limp body off of his,
with her arms open like a damsel under
spell from her prince.
She puckers her lips in dreamy thought
and squints her eyes shut, her back
arches as she is removed from her bed of
skin to the cold air.
I hold her tight and journey together.
She sighs when she feels the
familiar flannel in her bed and her
breathing finds its deep rhythm.
I tiptoe the zigzag path of the hallway,
the memorized maze where with each step the
wood plays a creaking note varying in dynamics
back to my rest,
layers of painted floor exposing the
steps of previous generations.
I wrote this poem over a year ago. It’s the right time now to share it here. I am so out of practice of writing poetry, but it sure was fun to have a try at it again. My only regret is that I keep thinking that if I were still in touch with my old poetry writing group that met for coffee, and critiqued each other’s work this would be so much better. Maybe one day I’ll have such another group.