12.24.2007

Lullaby

Birth I gave you in a desert
not by chance,
for no king would ever hazard
its expanse.

Seeking you in it, I figure
won't be wise
since its winter cold is bigger
than its size.

As you suck my breast, this vastness,
all this width,
feeds your gaze the human absence
it's filled with.

Grow accustomed to the desert
as to fate,
lest you find it omnipresent
much too late.

Some get toys, in piles and layers,
wrapped or bound.
You, my baby, have to play with
all the sand.

See that star, at terrifying
height, aglow?
Say, this void just helps it, eyeing
you below.

Grow accustomed to the desert.
Uniform
underfoot, for all it isn't,
it's most firm.

In it, fate rejects a phantom
faint or gross:
one can tell for miles a mountain
by a cross.

Paths one sees here are not really
human paths
but the centuries' which freely
through it pass.

Grow accustomed to the desert:
flesh is not --
as the speck would sigh, wind-pestered --
all you've got.

Keep this secret, child, for later.
That, I guess,
may just help you in a greater
emptiness.

Which is like this one, just ever-
lasting; and
in it love for you shows where
it might end.

Grow accustomed to the desert
and the star
pouing down its incandescent
rays, which are

just a lamp to guide the treasured
child who's late,
lit by someone whom that desert
taught to wait.

-- Joseph Brodsky

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