Work in progress – While You Dream

This is a poem I’m working on. It’s a second draft now, but it’s still a work in progress.

While You Dream – 05/12/2009

Your slumber is envious
a sleep so deep that you miss the
barking of Buffy and Baxter –
the two Labrador mutts
you’ve named sister, and brother,
and after whom you’ve modeled
many of your dinner table behaviors.
You’ve been in the same position
since we rocked you to sleep –
arms lifted over your head, one
slightly curled above as if
sheltering you from the night’s
unknowns.

You used to startle in your sleep
when you were days and weeks old
not the months and years you are now.
Without preamble you would strike
your coveted pose, lifting your arms
fiercely at a ninety degree angle
from your miniature body, and then
with a quiver, you would slowly lower them,
only to repeat the gesture a few more times –
that salute of life; a reflex, the doctors said,
and sure enough, you outgrew the
dancing poses and army salutes,
and took instead to sleeping twelve hours
while visiting all corners of your crib, in
a serene slumber.

You stir quietly,
a slight movement
of your Thomas the Train pajamas
as you inhale deeply –
a sigh perhaps as you dream
of luscious, creamy whole milk,
or your tete, sweet comfort,
or maybe your Mickey Mouse peluche
of whom you have four replicas,
one for each room of the house.
Or perhaps you’re dreaming of mama
and dada.

We hug when daddy comes home from work,
uniform wrinkled and eyes telling
of misfortunes and atrocities I thank God
you’re still too young to know about.
We hug a group hug –a playful
hug that intertwines our arms so that
we’re no longer solitary natives
within the cement walls of what we call home,
but a family, and we fall laughing
and shedding the skins of disappointments
and corruption, basking instead in the comforts
of innocence.

But now there’s no laughing,
just a slight pull of your lips,
half hidden
behind your tete
Tough Guy
Mute Button
Ladies Man –
and I pray every night for you,
for your eyes that look so much
like my father’s – dark
serious ovals that portray a wisdom
you’ve yet to live but seem to already know –
his wisdom.
You size everything and everyone
with those eyes –
open them wide as you analyze
what you can’t understand, or
silently watch the scenes unfold
as if you knew what the outcome
would be before the curtain fell.
You remind me of my father,
your grandfather, who you only met
for the first five and a half months
of your life.

Will you be like him –
an intellect whose thirst for water,
knowledge and language
tormented him every night, and at every nap?
A musician who taught himself
the keys of the organ and to write music,
who composed a song for his only daughter
saturated with prayers for her ninth birthday?
A philosopher with a fighter’s temper
and stubbornness
who refused to retreat or speak
even when entreated?
He is more a part of you
than you realize now. Someday you’ll know,
or perhaps, you already do but are
keeping it a secret from me as you
breath to the rhythms of your lullaby CD
that plays
in the background –

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown
.

The humidifier competes for your attention
a continuous humming that sometimes soothes
sometimes infuriates,
a seemingly never-ending waterfall of noise –
white noise.

Give babies white noise to help them sleep.

Yes, white noise. But why not scarlet noise,
something more colorful to bring
dreams of rainbows
and unicorns.
But no, white noise to help you sleep.
It does, but I wonder what you dream.
You sigh again as if you knew
I was watching you, perched
on the rails of your Babi Italia Pinehurst crib
in espresso,
staring at your eyelashes, your ears,
your nose.

When my cousin’s daughter was born
his wife counted her
fingers and toes
and tongue.
Your tongue remains slightly
visible behind your tete
that is now escaping your
faintly open mouth, as if
it were playing peek-a-boo
with the moon.

You stretch, and moan, and then turn
to your left, your back now to me,
bidding me good night, and
you keep on dreaming
while I watch you grow into a man.

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