The Afternoon Nap

“Then the Wheelbarrow is a wilder blue,
the clouds a brighter white,
and all I hear is the rasp of the steel edge
against a round stone,
the small plants singing with lifted faces,
and the click of the sundial
as one hour sweeps into the next.”
-From Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins

The Afternoon Nap

I pause to take a look at the child
before I step out of the room.
The hum of the fan
and the blue-curtained light
soak the air heavily with mid-afternoon sleep.

Waiting, letting the moment rest,
I realize she is still awake,
indifferent to my presence in the doorway.
I watch her lying beneath the blanket,
simple, safe,
waiting for dreams.

I feel the passing of every second
in heart beats
and slow, easy breaths,
the kind that come just before
an irresistible nap.

I stand, fully aware of this image
and the slowly-knitting future
for her,
for me.

Then, the only thing I hear
is the swelling din of the air,
hearts whispering behind ribs,
and the deep-blue afternoon light
as it pours an unstoppable stream of life
onto my daughter’s bedroom floor.

Michael Hylton
St. Louis, Missouri 2011


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