Details from the Early Hours of Mara Naomi

mara house poem

It’s dawn. Awake? Yes, awake. And each time
I marvel at your timing – arbitrary
As cloud’s deconstruction – inchoate shape
To form, animal to goblin, toy to dream;
Certain as logic’s tumble-grind of gears;
Quiet as mountain air before a storm.
Half-awake I detect your ramble down the hall,
As capricious as a dancing dust mote
That climbs its way down a staircase of sunlight
Pouring in through a generous window.
You pad into our room on monkey feet.
Suddenly beside our bed, blooming, spring’s first,
You cling to dawn’s hour like autumn’s last leaf.
Your touching face that no one sees is set
Against the dying darkness, encouraging it
To other hemispheres now that you are here.
With chill air and flailing sheets, you announce
The world is not as you left it last night.
Then turn your head away, because, after all,
You are searching for the headwaters of day.
Your eyes are aflame with reproach, the kind
That comes to test your innocence. The house
Is still entombed in sleep, all except you,
Who wish to break your fast in semidarkness
And test your tender steps in an early hour –
The one that heralds whispering highways to life,
But only in slow motion, one rolling word
At a time, spoken by distant houses
In dialogue with hours no one counts
Existing but now repurposed for sleep ,
And so lost to all but you as you gnaw
At stony biscuits and sip the spoiled milk
Of last night. You settle on these because
No one else is around to show you more or give
You more. But you and day are reconciled;
So, taking matters in your own hands, you pour
A messy glass and scatter heart-felt crumbs
Around the table. As if born without
Location, you’ve managed to inhabit
The early hours of life the first four years
Of your own, learning along the way, to die
At night, return, renew, and teach the air
To breathe again, until the world awakes.
And though I can see you through the darkness
When I first come down, I barely make you out –
Your hair, a dull copper muted by dawn’s
Reluctant steps across each sill and jamb.
Already you outgrow each year by a little more
Each time. The future alone is certain,
Although its hope chest remains closed to us,
Undiscovered, lying in a distant room,
The dawn yet to touch it through the curtains.
At that time, when death has paid my taxes,
My daughter with impervious smiles,
Tell me then, who will wake to hear you dance
From room to room as you try on a dress,
Wear out an emotion, fall in and out of love,
And wander back, in your mind, to rescue these
Details so rich to you, so new, so kind?
Yes, details that even devils cannot find.


  1. “Naomi! That’s a lovely name. Let’s hope it doesn’t end up Mara!”

    I kid, I kid.

    This was really an exceptional backward glance.

  2. Lovely … very lovely. Very, very lovely, etc.

  3. That was great. Thanks.

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