July 31, 2008

Marty McConnell

FABLE TELLING HOW NIGHT
INVENTED HERSELF OUT OF SOUND

nights I was afraid of the moon
or spiders or the janitor
who was always whistling
I’d cross the long hall
like a river, like Jordan
in the song, toward the bed
where my parents slept. I’d stand
by my mother’s head for seconds
though it seemed my whole life,
perched at the hem of their
paired breathing, the light
from the double windows,
moonlight woven through the oak,
laced across them and the porch roof
we were to climb out on and down
in case of fire (one of my mother’s fears,
not mine), and she would wake
and say Martha, what is it? and I
would whisper I’m scared though
I wasn’t anymore, in that room
with the platform bed and the breathing
and I would climb in between them,
their cotton pajamas hushing
across the sheets. the air
from their mouths was the air
in dreams, cloud-like and solid
as spun candy. the dark
of their room was the dark
of the moon when it is there
but hidden, the shadow
of our planet draped across it
like a shroud or the caul
a mother lifts to watch
her first daughter’s pink mouth
release its originating scream.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007

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