Lullaby After Midnight
The tallest elephant draws night down
in a swathe that unrolls and falls and folds
on her shoulders, doubles back, doubles again,
heaping its thicknesses into pure dark.
Safe in that velvet, elephants sleep on the ground
for an hour, and kudu on buckled knees.
Birds cover their heads; dusk-hunting snakes
compose themselves around full bellies.
Baobabs sigh and stretch their roots
a further inch into earth. Where people lie still,
dreams slip between the bars of their cages.
Even the animals back of the stars come out.
Now mist-drops touch and grow heavy enough for rain.
Now babies wake their mothers from inside:
Into a place so damp and dark and quiet,
they are willing to be born.
“Lullaby After Midnight” is from Mount Clutter (Grove Press, 2002).