All parents have had the experience of children wandering into their room late at night, afraid or disoriented, and asking, “Can I sleep with you?” Rather than be angry or annoyed, we merely laid out the spare quilts, sewn by the children’s grandmothers. And we all fell asleep again. Waking early for work, I tip-toed over and around my sleeping children. Home in the evening, their quilts lay on the floor like the discarded skins of pupaed caterpillars taken flight. I hope you enjoy my poem memorializing that recollection.
Three quilts lie in a corner of my room,
folded, again, neatly, again;
three queen-size quilts
sewn and tied by gifting grandmothers
who rest under blanketing memory,
leaving to me these warm tokens.
From night-sleep stupor,
I hear distantly the click of a switch, and a flush,
an apologetic knocking, and a whispered “Dad,”
more like the hiss of heavy breathing than a name.
In my knowing, I find the corners
of a folded quilt and toss it out its full length
upon the floor, by the bed, where there’s room.
I could order them back to their beds, but
there seems to always be room.
In the obscurity of my morning,
I have sense enough
to step gingerly over and around
the boys, asleep in their quilted cocoons;
my boys, rising each day
with a deep life-breath yawn and
a stretching of slumber-stiff limbs,
flying from their crumpled quilts,
like the discarded skins of metamorphosis, with
only air and sky ahead.