Night Walk, Morning of the Solstice


I call to my daughter through her sleep.
My voice must be the wind to her, her mind a harp,
for she hums the notes of a song we used to sing.
I call again: Karen. I think she hears, for under
folds of sheets and woolen spreads, she stirs,
draws up long limbs closer to her chest.
When she was two, I carried her from bed
to the comfort of the rocker, when she was eight,
I'd walk her to the couch, her star-like hand
pressed warm in mine.
Now from the windy hall I call her name.
She moves more deeply into sleep, turns her head away.


Outside, it might as well be midnight at half passed six.
The moon is slipping into darkness.
Once I would have followed
but I am seeking tenderness, something
that the night won't give, something found perhaps
in subtle demarcations: street, tree, frozen river
field beyond where wild ducks are waiting, waiting
for the light, or warmth, or for the seed
I bring them every morning.
The moon has vanished into darkness.
I move further into shadow and my daughter
into sleep.


If she were up and walked with me,
I would show her how the clouds rise slowly off the river,
tell her how the sun breaks fully without warning, sometimes,
that age has made me see these things and think these things,
has made me mourn the passing of each day.
And yes if she were with me on this morning of all mornings
I would tell her that I'm only
sometimes lonely, that I fear the ache of rupture,
but I need to let her go.
I scatter fine crushed corn and broken pellets on the river bank:
mallard, pintail, blue-winged teal: everything
is crystal, everything is still.