Poetry

On Children

Child sleeping on wolfskin rug, ca. 1900-1910. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

To help them sleep is a creative act:
You choose what seems a fitting setting: bed.
You plot a structure: prayers, then lullaby,
Then slowly slowing down the tune until
It could be breathing just as soon as song,
Then creeping, often on your hands and knees,
While listening intently to their breath,
Back through the evening darkness toward the door.

So many things can cause your form to break:
A sudden thirst, the question why we die,
Or how we’re born, or why we chose to eat
A salad dinner when we could have cake.
Most often, though, it seems so random why
When all has been made ready, they still wake.

Timothy E.G. Bartel is a California native who currently serves as Assistant Professor of Great Texts and Writing at The Saint Constantine School. His latest chapbook is Arroyos: Sijo and Other Poems (Mariscat Press, 2015).
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