New verse by the winner of the 2018 Ockham New Zealand national book award prize for poetry, Elizabeth Smither.
Night time words to Ruby
I hold you in my arms and say
beautiful girl, beautiful girl.
You do not want to go to bed: instead
you say you’re instructed to lie between
your mother and father like a bolster
and wait for them to slide inside.
I see the fresh sheets and the pillows
the throw laid diagonally across
the quiet dark against the curtains
the hush of a lamp: intimacy after
someone’s wedding party. Your bunk
seems so high, aloof as a tower
and later when I check on you you’ve
half disrobed and put on your sleep mask
the duvet is slewed across your body.
Beautiful girl, beautiful girl in your tower
not far from the ceiling which you could reach.
I am bringing something I do not know
down to you in my embrace. An angel’s
wingtip, the first air movement of
a visitation of coming and forever grace.
Beautiful girl, beautiful girl.
Elizabeth Smither, 2018
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