The Windfall Sleep

Her crying wakes me at 3 a.m.,
and I walk the dark hall blind
on bloodless limbs and memory.
The gossip of loose boards
gathers in my footsteps,
and that old hardwood floor
tells the rambling tale of sleepy trips
in socked feet
and drowsy midnight promises.

When I enter her make-believe world,
the trumpet drops
from her wind-scoured lips,
the devils dissolve,
the fairies fly
for their lakes and hills and islands,
and her quick smile squeezes out
the last blue note of a gasp
and a salty thimble of tears.

There, riddled in the half-light,
stands my pilgrim daughter,
nearly three years old,
her green soul spun from my core
and dipped neck-deep
in the shouting uncorked bottle
of all I say and do.

Her tiny feet
turn out the rhythm of my years
in a ten-toed living pulse
that pours strength
into this father’s form of mine.

I sweep the heedless rush
of long brown hair
from her merciful eyes,
fold her into place with a magic sprig
of yarrow and yellow chamomile
to hold the imps at bay,
and rocking quietly, wait, wait
for the windfall sleep.


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