Waking to the Night

Photo Credit: josemanuelerre.Licensed CC-BY-ND.
Photo Credit: josemanuelerre.
Licensed CC-BY-ND.

Our little girl wakes, afraid of the dark
fullness of empty rooms. She scuttles
up stairs, blanket over her head so monsters
can’t see her, calls “Mommy, Mommy!”
and buries herself beneath our big covers,
letting cold-toed fears re-warm. Mother’s
slow pulse beside her calms. I listen, too

so near the woman’s heart, and hope
my even rhythm might steady them both.
Oh, I know dark corners, these ghosts
given life in the dead hours of night,
when we are all children unable to stop
the shadows outside the window, old
clocks ticking chants of fearsome things:

that no one will hear our cries, or will not
care if they do. That life might be too short,
and love arrive too late. That small acts will
foolishly squander great things. That bright
answers too often hide in fearsome places.
That a nightmare’s great, tormenting beast
will come and be real again. That we’ll falter

beneath the weight of courage, and the tears,
and the hard climb, and all our stifled cries,
are wrapped in my arms, in dark night beings,
these littlest of children we hold to ourselves
trying to comfort with our grownup voices,
The only way to not be afraid is to dare to be
more brave. That’s the only way, the only way.

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