Pandemic Lullaby                                                                     by Maril Crabtree

My legs take me into sleep. I curl them around a small pillow that huddles between my knees. I read somewhere that sleeping with such a pillow protects your back and my back needs protecting, or so I imagine. My body zigs and zags around the pillow. My restless legs gradually
 grow quiet. The rest of my body follows, grateful for a chance to be still, grateful to give the lead to another body part. It takes a mountain sometimes to understand what the river is saying. It takes a river to sweep light back into darkness.

              My bed swallows my body, letting it sink into its own river of dark, of void,
              of calm. I sleep on my side, legs zigzagged beneath me, silk pillow mounded
              between my knees, its cool touch a touchstone for sleep, permission to cuddle
              into my own arms, fingers, pressing my hand into my cheek, feeling the hair
              on my neck as it necklaces on my shoulders. I shift until it smooths beneath
              the shoulder closest to the mattress.

 I breathe now, scanning the rest of me, setting forth with oars lifted across the bow,
 letting myself rest, letting the resting body carry me into the rest of the night. Sleep now.
 Listen to the ticking clock, the faint barks of a neighbor’s dog, the welcome sprinkle
 of rain on the roof. Noise is no enemy. It lulls me deeper into the river. I sense the ghosts
 receding, assure them and myself that all is well.

              Tomorrow I will zigzag my way through a locked-down life with the hopeful
              embrace of a well-slept woman, hair in need of cutting but curling down my
              back with the weightlessness of age, knotted hands finding their work within
              silent walls. In the evening I will begin again the rebirth of sleep, the hallowed
              pillows for head and knees, sheets billowing around me, legs scissoring under me, drifting into 
              the waves, into night’s plenitude.

Maril Crabtree’s poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently Thorny Locust, Adanna, and Literary Mama. Her book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark received the 2018 Kansas Notable Books award and was a finalist for the AAUW Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award.

Editor Katelyn Roth graduated from Pittsburg State University with her Master’s in poetry. Her work has previously appeared online at Silver Birch Press and at Heartland: Poems of Love, Resistance, and Solidarity. She lives, works, and writes in Kansas City.


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