A Confession, and an Antidote to the Cruel World


I must confess
when you creep down
the stairs (they creak under the late
hour), I sigh. But, sighs withstanding, I
follow you back up
to the third floor, and I tuck you in
for the second time
sing the same song with yet another
made-up verse,
pray an abbreviated prayer, then stumble
back to my own bed, weighed down
by weariness.

That old friend. Weariness will put his arms
around your shoulders and hug you down.

After that I can no longer sleep, so I think about how,
at some point in the near future,
I will have to tell you about the meanness
in the world, the people who will take advantage
of you, the people who will return
your innocent smile with a handful of
filth. I will have to tell you about the wars
and the shootings
and the hardness of it all. Yes, that’s it.

It’s the unbending nature of this world I will have to
warn you about.

But tonight I sigh and roll over in bed, and
the next time you come down, unable
to sleep, I tell you to bring
your pillow
and your blanket
and make a bed beside me, on the floor.
I watch through the door’s slant of light the beauty
of you, falling asleep,
and suddenly I remember the antidote
to the unyielding nature of this world:

a seven-year-old girl,