Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2009

The Signs of Sleep

by Winston Plowes

A child is in the Boatman's bed.
And all the signs of sleep are on her.
Buried by the covers from the Thursday market,
heaped on, safe under.
She falls short of the pillows and roots down
to make a depression, a nest, and lies flatter
Sweat gathers on her arms, cheeks, back, face,
long ginger hair darkened to a flat fringe, plastered.
Drowned in sleep she stirs under low white lights.
Left on to keep off ghosts.
Her eyes fall open staring back at dreams and her fathers face.
He draws back the damp covers to cool her.
White skin pressed with details of the cotton creases
like knife runs in the morning's butter.
Lights out - Covers up - Dreams resume - Goodnight darling.
And the man retires to his room, to his world of business.
An unconscious goodnight seeps back.
through the wood and under the door to him.
He settles down his last late glass, waits for 7 and content, smiles.
And all the signs of sleep are on him.

Added: 10.01.2009