Deathbed Baby


Reminding myself of the mountains’
suffocated pines, up where the air is
too thin for life to climb. How I would love
to lay my head in that lap of the world,
and weep for all the fears I left unfaced.
A sojourner and exile — how beloved can I be?

I’m a deathbed baby; cradle my head
near your heartbeat, take my confession,
and play with my hair. You always had that
gentle touch of trepidation, singing
lullabies under your breath. In my ear
they sounded like prayers, and their answers.

My false idol. My saviour from so much
pain I was meant to endure. Not payment
for seven years of labor, nor present
from a father. Your love came freely when,
for forty years, I walked through the desert
of your skin, without promise of milk and honey.

Who calls love a sin? Sojourners, exiles —
how beloved can we be? Paradise
not made for you or me, by a super-
natural power, covetously hanging
over us like one long eleventh hour,
and telling us to wait for our inheritance.

To fill our waiting life with His silence.
I’m a deathbed baby; cradle my heart-
beat in my head, like a vacant seashell
where the shore roars as ocean meets its end.
How can something so vast reach out for more?
Can’t you better define benevolence?

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