Rocking Anna to Sleep
by Judson Mitcham
It was almost sorrow, what I used to know
as a child, not wanting to drift off,
hearing the even, deep breaths
of my brother, to whom
everything was lost: the cracked door's
line of pure light climbing the wall,
far down Church Street, a solitary bark
catching on, even the cool pillow,
its familiar smell.
The small breaths
of the girl failing in my arms
grow slower and deep.
She trails this worn blue nylon nightgown
all over the house. She loves
the feel of one button. But I know
if I lifted her hand,
it would easily open and fall back
free as a raindrop.
The rocker's soft
creak keeps time. I let it die.
And perhaps she's startled by the change
or has gone so far in her dreams,
she can say--by tightening her grip
when I pull at the gown--you are wrong
if you think there is nothing in the world
you can always hold.