Adrienne Rich

Night Pieces: For a Child

1. The Crib

You sleeping I bend to cover.
Your eyelids work.  I see
your dream, cloudy as a negative,
swimming underneath.
You blurt a cry.  Your eyes
spring open, still filmed in dream.
Wider, they fix me”
”death's head, sphinx, medusa?
You scream.
Tears lick my cheeks, my knees 
droop at your fear. 
Mother I no more am,
but woman, and nightmare.

2. Her Waking

Tonight I jerk astart in a dark
hourless as Hiroshima,
almost hearing you breathe
in a cot three doors away.

You still breathe, yes -
and my dream with its gift of knives,
its murderous hider and seeker,
ebbs away, recoils
back into the egg of dreams,
the vanishing point of mind.
All gone.

But you and I -
swaddled in a dumb dark
old as sickheartedness,
modern as pure annihilation -

We drift in ignorance.
If I could hear you now
mutter some gentle animal sound!
If milk flowed from my breast again . . .

spoken = Karen Marek