Whatever It Is

Cradled in his own arms, the child
rocks himself, sleepless. Over and over
he hums a lullaby like a question
the night won’t answer.

Eyes squeezed shut, he strains
toward the silence that lies
on the other side of the thunder
rolling through the incomprehensible

cruelty of the sky. Every night
just beyond his bedroom door,
the wind screams his name. It burns
as it should. Children mustn’t touch

fire. Finally, his mind
closes its eye to day’s dull murder,
and a richer violence swells
his abandoned heart. A river dark and red

as birth’s memory blooms a jungle;
broad leaves drink the water of dream.
Something moves beneath the leaves.
Something wants the child, loves the child.

It moves hugely, slow as a stone,
toward him. Alone in this strange place,
he reaches out to whatever it is.
It doesn’t matter. The child reaches out.

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