Friday, February 27, 2009

Poetry Friday - Late at Night in Bed

It's been a long time since I did a Poetry Friday post of my own, as opposed to just linking you to the list of other people's posts. This week I have no excuse at all, since I have been on vacation. I finished all my grading last Saturday and have been able to relax completely. It has been wonderful!

And yet, as this poem reminds me, I don't ever relax completely. I am always alert, listening for what is going wrong, or what might go wrong in a minute. Just last night I was tiptoeing around while everyone slept, checking on the children, checking on the quiet empty living room.

Late at Night in Bed
by Gregory Djanikian

My wife tells me she hears a beetle
Scurrying across the kitchen floor.
She says our daughter is dreaming

Too loudly, just listen, her eyelids
Are fluttering like butterflies.

What about the thunder, I say,
What about the dispatches from the police car
Parked outside, or me rolling over like a whale?

She tells me there’s a leaf falling
And grazing the downstairs window,
Or it could be glass cutters, diamonds,
Thieves working their hands toward the latch.
She tells me our son is breathing too quickly,
Is it pneumonia, is it the furnace
Suddenly pumping monoxides through the house?

So when my wife says sleep, she means
A closing of the eyes, a tuning
Of the ears to ultra frequencies.

(It is what always happens
When there are children, the bed
Becoming at night a listening post,
Each little ting forewarning disaster.)

Later in the poem comes my favorite stanza:

My wife stirs, Be glad, she says,
Sound doesn’t carry far, that you don’t hear
The whole of it, cries in the night,
Children in other cities, hurts, silences.

Indeed, I am glad that I don't hear all of it, for what I do hear is quite enough to keep me listening, and worrying, and fretting, and praying.

Here's the rest of this wonderful poem. And here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.


Jessica said...

I love this, wow so true!

Janet said...

This is great. I'm so with you on the nightly tiptoing. It's very hard to release myself to the unconsciousness of sleep.

Kelly said...

Wow. This is great! I lay in bed listening to my kids breathing every night. My daughter has seizures in the night (thankfully not often), so this makes me sleep even less soundly! My hubby sleeps like a log every night knowing I am always tuned in to the kids!