At Rest [a poem]

by Katherine Willis Pershey

sleeping g

This girl, my daughter,
cannot succumb to sleep
without the benefit of our arms.
We let her get away with this indulgence,
so brief are the years in which a parent’s embrace
is antidote to most anything.

In the glimmer of her nightlight,
I wait for sleep to take her,
She grins at me in the dark,
eyes closed by mandate.
This girl, my daughter,
isn’t afraid of the dark.
The possibility of monsters
has never dawned on her.

As I behold my child,
my mind drifts to my childhood.
I remember things long forgotten.
Last night: the fleeting agony
of lungs bereft of breath.
I haven’t had the wind knocked out of me
in years, haven’t felt the odd painless panic
of not even being able to gasp.
I had nearly forgotten it can happen.

Her breath has slowed, her lips gone slack,
and she is asleep in my arms again,
and again I slip away and tiptoe
and wince at the click of the knob.
This girl, my daughter,
my child, my childhood,
at rest.

4 Responses to “At Rest [a poem]”

  1. Leigh Kramer September 16, 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    Beautiful, Katherine!

  2. AlissaBC September 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm #

    You captured it perfectly.

  3. Diana September 16, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

    Gorgeous, dear K. And that sleeping angel? On, my. Sleep erases a bucketload of angst from the long days, doesn’t it? Thanks for all of this, words and picture and remembrances. I sometimes think about that awful feeling of having the wind knocked out – and it’s been even longer for me since I experienced it. Not fun.

  4. Georgi September 16, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    “so brief are the years in which a parent’s embrace
    is antidote to most anything.” Ah, yes. 20 years ago Wednesday, my eldest came to this world. I wish my arms could still fix everything as it could back then. Thank you for this.

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