Pavane for Sleeping Children

by Deborah Pope

The children are dreaming away.
They crouch in the next room,
the night is sorrow and wind.
I left their father years ago.

They crouch in the next room,
they take all I have.
I left their father years ago.
Silence is an old address.

They take all I have,
closed eyes and a heavy tongue.
Silence is an old address,
I keep secrets from everyone I love,

closed eyes and a heavy tongue,
so they will not leave me.
I keep secrets from everyone I love,
they give me gifts I do not deserve.

So they will not leave me
I make a trail. Only I know the way.
They give me gifts I do not deserve,
what am I to do with them all?

I make a trail, only I know the way.
I feed them with words, stitch them in tears,
what am I to do with them all?
I hoard what I can.

I feed them with words, stitch them in tears.
The night is sorrow and wind.
I hoard what I can.
The children are dreaming away.


Deborah Pope has published three books of poems, Fanatic Heart, Mortal World, and Falling Out of the Sky, all from LSU Press, as well as one volume of criticism, A Separate Vision: Isolation in Contemporary Women’s Poetry (LSU, 1984). She edited the collection Ties That Bind: Essays on Mothering and Patriarchy (University of Chicago Press, 1990). Currently, she teaches at Duke University.

Poem from Falling Out of the Sky (LSU Press, 1999).