Getting the Child to Bed

Getting the child to bed is awful work,
Committing that rage to sleep that will not sleep.
The lie rots in my throat saying, “O.K.
There is balm in Gilead. Go to bed.
Honey of generation has betrayed us both.”
And truly it is no wild surmise of darkness
Nor Pisgah purview of Canaan drowned in blood
But only my child saying its say in bed.

If madness ever covers me, the caul contract
That now but loosely insinuates a shroud
I shall go howling into the conscious grave
(God keep children from the power of the dog)
Follow that note into the uttering horn
Awake in the womb from which I was born.

Allen Grossman, "Getting the Child to Bed" from Sweet Youth. Copyright © 2002 by Allen Grossman.  Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: Sweet Youth (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2002)
More Poems by Allen Grossman