• Penny Harter


This morning we are on the cusp of a cold front here in NJ, expecting rain, wind, thunderstorms, and even the chance of an isolated tornado north of where I am here in Atlantic county. Here's another poem from my new book Still-Water Days, offering a kind of lullaby that ends with rain---and hopefully bringing comfort in these still ongoing pandemic days.

A Song Before Sleep

"I would like to sing someone to sleep" Ranier Maria Rilke, from “To Say Before Sleep”

I think it will be a song without words, or perhaps a song in a language I invent, a gently babbling stream.

If I can open the mouth of my heart, my hope chest of memory, perhaps a chant I learned by heart and sang at evensong in some lost monastic life will find voice and rise to comfort both myself and you.

I may merely hum, voice vibrating deep in my chest as I follow the thread of a familiar melody I can’t quite recall— maybe the one I hummed years ago to my infant grandson while holding a nebulizer over his nose and mouth and rocking us both until he hummed back.

If my song does find words, may they be words that cradle you as you drift through the twilight door that swings between day and dark; may they be balm to your spirit, soothing you as if you were a child again, your head on my shoulder.

And may your breathing time to mine as you find the deep room of sleep and stay there although the wind moans in the eaves, blowing night rain against your windows.

And even when thunder knocks hard at your dreams, know that it, too, is simply raising its own wordless song.

(c) 2021 Penny Harter, from Still-Water Days (Kelsay Books, 2021)

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