With the So-Called Sick
In the green crib the child is not sleeping.
Shadow covers the top of the sleepless face
and in the shadow the eyes are open wide.
Are they looking at Mother’s face as she reads
or watching the red pompoms on the toes
of her jaunty slippers propped on the side
of the crib’s green rail? Or are they seeing
a distant land where a princess rides
on a black horse across the shifting sands?
Or the blue-black deeps where a mermaid swims
through anemone glades to trade her tail
for legs and passage to overwater lands
Through waves that ripple like the frothy hem
of Mother’s skirt? In the green lamp’s warm glow
and fast under the spell of the dim room
Mother’s voice is the best balm. Nothing soothes
quite so well the querulous child who
forgets all ills in the gathering gloom.
And Mother, cozy in the red rail chair
Forgets her chores, the dishes, the mending
enjoying her respite by the sickbed.
Tomorrow the malingerer will be well
and bask in the joy of the story’s ending
And all the terrors of the night shall be fled.
I’ve been enjoying the challenge of writing poems to go with paintings. Carl Larsson’s paintings are amazing and, while I don’t think my words quite does this one justice, it’s a fun exercise.