A Classic Sampler
Beowulf / Viking Poetry
Sir Gawain & the
Green Knight and Pearl
Poetic Techniques / Essays
Masthead / Awards
New Changes & Old
by Rebecca Henry Lowndes
Midnight tripped an hour ago
and fell into the small hours.
Roused from dozing to the slap and howl
of nightshift winds my dreamy
sail-bright craft is bucked and flipped
and runs aground
abruptly, canvas catching
my mother, wine-remote and mournful,
launches into song.
She and her sorrow have
into a third
-- or so I
from my leggy sprawl flung idly
in the pillowed, twilit room
next the tideless, drydock kitchen,
I and my wicking youth, all ears,
all ears abrim
for the same two songs she’s
my spooling lifetime’s skein along --
murky, folksy, in that plain,
pitch-careful, voice-of-angels way
Bedtimes, back in tuck-in years,
she’d kneel by my anchored bed;
her hands would trace the contours
of my head, and she would sing,
reedy but near-as-can-be true,
and always (as if secretly)
layered, spun of runes.
I am not schooled in matters of the soul.
tonight, my brother’s gone, a moth
to the guttering collegiate flame;
and our father lies asleep,
unwell, a tossing raft poling him
supine beyond the reach of dreams.
It’s quiet here. And for her voice’s tracery
through tiers of pendant light
grants herself a third
(translucent green) and lo!
the lullabies emerge antique,
Does she think she’s singing to the
soaring, storebought lily? or my
absent brother’s mapless
No matter. In this spinning hour,
these twinned and rising airs are mine
when, from a room -- a world -- away,
with something more than words entwined,
my mother sings.
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