By and By

What falls on us familiar at the end
And blankets even the daylight in a blur
That neither fog nor cricket come to friend
Is not the night, although I wish it were;
Night gathers like a comforter in bed,
A sibling to the sleepless and the young,
An arm across the shoulder never shed
Till daybreak yawns to fill the smoky lung;
But what we dim the bedroom to forget,
What waits to hold the final door for us—
Its glasses clear and dry, its muzzle wet,
In church someday, at home, or on the bus—
Is pain, which has no dreams, and will not say
The sentence that it carries, or the day.



Lullaby Before Birth

For now you can be happy,
Whatever you are called,
A thing no hands have held,
In darkness, where you wait
And nothing soon will stop you
Unfastening the gate.

Come through and you will find us
And cry until you can’t,
And every day you count
A gift will be a loan,
And all the dark beyond us
Someday will be your own.

So rest a little longer
Where morning isn’t yet,
Though, early born or late,
The light is not to keep.
We grow, but never younger,
And have no time to sleep.

Published in the July 11, 2014 issue: View Contents

Matthew Buckley Smith was the winner of the 2011 Able Muse Book Award for his first collection, Dirge for an Imaginary World. His poems have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes and featured in Verse Daily and Best American Poetry.

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