Out of the corner of my eye
I watch my wakeful daughter
In my arms
Afraid to catch her infant glance
As I move
To a slow sleepmaking rhythm
which affects only me.
Her tiny fingers
Move over my face,
Feeling everything,
Nose, mouth and eyes,
with exquisite touch
And quiet squeals of joy,
Intakes of breath
And kicking feet,
So different from the
Howling child I picked up.
At last she sucks her thumb,
Covers her face with a cloth
And I know that sleep is near.
I thought it wouldn’t come tonight,
So long I’ve swayed
And sung and cooed
In the darkened room.
But her head falls back
And pale eyelids close
To shut out my face.
Her limbs hang heavy
In my aching arms.
I lay her in the cot
And like a thief
Steal from the room
And pull the door to,
with fingers crossed
And “Shush”
To my waiting wife.

July 1972