I sang “Hush-A-Bye” to my son every night
at bedtime. Told him not to be afraid
of the dark. Tucked him in real tight
under his Ninja Turtle sheets and comforter.
He didn’t want to close his eyes. Didn’t want
to fall asleep. Worries about monsters.
I don’t lie to him anymore. I don’t tell him
there are no monsters. Instead, I tell him, when
the monster comes, don’t look in its face.
Close your eyes. Remember everything we did
and everything we made that can’t be taken away.
Remember our city of empty boxes with hand
drawn windows, felt flowers on cardboard lawns,
and black construction paper streets.
Remember ropes braided with linen and denim
for doggy tug-of-war, Dusty’s burnt pumpkin
peanut butter bones, his bared teeth, our laughter.
Remember the white kitty sleeping in the alley
on a bed of socks, painted birdhouses and beaded
windchimes, hanging from a post beside the shed door.
Remember hopscotch sidewalks, and the icy man
with his chipped tooth and cherry cones.
Remember cookie dough, cotton candy, and Pop Rocks from the corner store.
Remember everything good when you close your eyes
because memories are spiritual. This life, ephemeral. Our bond, eternal.
So, remember our song,
this night, these arms,
and my promise that whenever you awake,
“you shall have all the pretty little horses…”
Shawn R. Jones 2022