Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

Sing me a song that is pure as the breeze…

Sing to the Lord, God’s chosen ones. Sing him a song that is new.

Zion sing, break into song.

Sing a song of sixpence.

In the dark the child cannot sleep unless
the tired mother sits and rocks and sings.

She sings the butterfly song:
Fly away, little butterfly, fly away.
Come back tomorrow and stay with me all day.
Fly away, little butterfly, fly away.

The mother is bone weary and the baby
at her breast sucks and squirms.
But still she sings, sings into the darkness.
And the restless child turns.
Is she asleep yet? The mother pauses.

But from the bed the voice comes, querulous:
Sing! Sing!
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me….

Sing sing! her daughter insists.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
St Sophia, pray for us. Saint Benedict, pray for us…
All holy men and women…
Pray for us. The familiar litany winds on and on and on.

She names every saint she can think of.

They gather around the bed, the holy men
and women in their shining halos
and the mother holds on to the image.

In the dark bedroom the song pushes away
demons, monsters, night terrors.
Eventually the child quiets, drifts.

But the mother keeps singing, because she knows if she stops
her daughter will awake and reproach her for the missing songs. 

You didn’t sing it right.

Frère Jacques
Frère Jacques
Sonnez les matines
Sonnez les matines
Ding, ding, dong…

Except it’s the night bells ringing
and she does not want the sleeper to wake.
Quite the opposite

Oh my darling, O my darling,
I love you, I love you
Sleep now my darling,
Hush now my darling
Go to sleep. Go to sleep.

The baby is asleep now, a warm weight
on her chest as she sings, quieter now:

Go to sleep, little butterfly,
Go to sleep. Put your head on your pillow.
Close your eyes and dream.
Dream about flowers and bright blue skies.

Every night the same songs. A ritual that one day
she will miss when she realizes it’s been years
since she sang into the dark.

Stay with me little butterfly,
Don’t fly away.


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