Dormi, Jesu

by Isabel Chenot

The sky would not show me its true color, nor the sea.
Between shadows of waves the sky lay inscrutably
hushed and held.

Long past in an old house I heard a woman rocking, humming emptily
to an infant. Her tune gathered, shadowed, fell —
her form curved, knees drawn — fracturable shell
around a pearl.

How many waves can our shell hold, I wondered, how many pearls?
And I felt, this old house is not empty.
So when I heard the water’s enclaves lulling the sky’s mystery
I thought, this old house is not empty.

Long past a woman hummed, her knees upcurled,
some haunting psalm that rose and dwindled