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Poem: "Watching the Baby Sleep" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Watching the Baby Sleep"

This poem is from the June 4, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by e_scapism101 and kelkyag.  It has been sponsored by janetmiles.  This poem belongs to the series Monster House.


Watching the Baby Sleep


The house is dark and quiet,
even the monster-under-the-bed
snoozing peacefully.

It's hard to sleep
when you're a new parent.

When you lie down
and try to get some rest,
the baby cries,
and you drag yourself
to the nursery for the nightly dance
of diaper-checking and bottle-offering.

When you lie down, again,
in the cooling nest of your bed,
the dreams come --
dreams of the baby crying
that you wake to answer
only to hear silence;
dreams of the baby gone missing
that bring you running into the nursery
only to find the tiny form
curled peacefully in the crib.

So you wind up spending a lot of time
standing in the velveteen shadows of pre-dawn
watching the baby sleep, fist curled tight against rosebud lips.
while the curtains billow gently in the breeze.

In a house like this,
it can be hard to tell
what's just a dream
and what might be
a real hazard.

This is the fear that I whisper
into the dimness of my daughter's room.

The lurking shadow peels away from the wall
and slips out in search of someone more reassuring,
then comes back towing a sleepy bogeyman
with his white silk hair standing up in tufts.

He gives me a matter-of-fact pat on the shoulder,
sprinkles the floor of the nursery
with a mixture of flour and mustard seed,
then shoos me gently back to bed.

A few hours later, the sun is up
and there are no nightmare hoofprints
nor clawmarks from demons
nor tracks of any other kind;
and nothing caught counting mustard seeds.

The bogeyman smiles at me
with his shark-bright teeth,
assures me that my dreams are only dreams,
and goes to get a dustpan.

My wife kisses me on the cheek,
picks up our daughter for breakfast,
and tells me to go back to bed.

I go,
and the bed is warm
and welcoming,
and it does not take long at all
to fall back asleep.

If there's one thing I've learned
from living in a mixed household, it's this:

when the bogeyman tells you
there's nothing to worry about,
it's generally true.

* * *

Notes:

A nightmare is a disturbing dream, associated in mythology with the form of a horse among other things.

Scattering flour and mustard seed are two traditional ways of detecting or trapping various legendary creatures.

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Comments
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: June 6th, 2013 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
For all it's about nightmares, this is very sweet. Also, the image of a sleepy tousled bogeyman is somewhat mindboggling.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 6th, 2013 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> For all it's about nightmares, this is very sweet. <<

I'm glad you like it. Sometimes horror is about the topic, and other times it's about the tone. Not everything with monsters in it is scary.

>> Also, the image of a sleepy tousled bogeyman is somewhat mindboggling. <<

Heh, yeah. On the job, he's a terror. At home, he's a cupcake.
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: October 3rd, 2014 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm reading this series in order and I'm noticing there is no wedding poem.

I find myself wondering about the wedding, considering at Thanksgiving, all the monsters had to hide. Would they get married elsewhere? Then the monsters couldn't come. And I think they'd want to. But if the wedding was at home then the monsters would have to hide. Sad.
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