Reader Poetry: While She Sleeps


While She Sleeps
By Alexander Kern

            for Ruthanna, my daughter, at eleven months
Would that I could hijack a broken grocery cart
from the gutter’s tight grasp and freewheel it swiftly
all the way home. I’d hop on board with weary feet
and clicking knee, I’d jet up Summer Street fast as can be.
On second thought, I’d ride all the way
from Davis to Union, imagining each rotary
as a weary eye blinking at the midsummer night.
I’d sail my ship through the foul scent of skunk
past three-family homes clenched tighter
than knuckles along the ridge of the world.
I’d snatch up recycling bins, one in each hand
and scoop up the sky, drinking its purple
til I could drink no more.
Reaching the crest of Spring Hill’s ocean wave,
I’d salute Mother Mary standing quiet at St. Catherine’s,
out on the front lawn shedding porcelain tears.
Gathering steam, I’d jet past the skull of the old funeral home,
its sides stripped of vinyl, its mouth open wide.
I’d fly past the pizza place, then on to the bakery
where the Borges Family cook up their earthly delights.

I’d speed past the church gutted for condos,
then spin round the rotary waving my flag.
I’d follow the trail of the Mystic past Lechmere
then out to the harbor and on to the sea.

By then I’d remember the point of my journey:
to listen awhile for the drumbeat of rain
then float home to watch over my child as she sleeps,
her fair head resting on the palm of the world.