American Life in Poetry
Those of us who have been fortunate enough to have been new parents will recognize the way in which everything seems to relate to a baby, who has by her arrival suddenly made the world surround her. D. Nurkse lives in Brooklyn.
We brought that newborn home from Maimonides
and showed her nine blue glittering streets.
Would she like the semis with hoods of snow?
The precinct? Bohack’s? A lit diner?
Her eyes were huge and her gaze tilted
like milk in a pan, toward shadow.
Would she like the tenement, three dim flights,
her crib that smelled of Lemon Pledge?
We slept beside her in our long coats,
rigid with fatigue in the unmade bed.
Her breath woke us with its slight catch.
Would she approve of gray winter dawn?
We showed her daylight in our cupped hands.
Then the high clocks began booming
in this city and the next, we counted for her,
but just the strokes, not the laggards
or the tinny echoes, and we taught her
how to wait, how to watch, how to be held,
in that icy room, until our own alarm chimed.
Poem copyright 2012 by D. Nurkse from “A Night in Brooklyn” (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012), and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by The Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.