Cortney Davis is the author of five poetry collections, including Details of Flesh (Calyx Books) and Leopold's Maneuvers (Univ. of Nebraska Press) winner of the Prairie Schooner Poetry Prize.Her non-fiction publications include I Knew a Woman: The Experience of the Female Body (Random House), winner of the Center for the Book Non-Fiction Award, and The Heart's Truth: Essays on the Art of Nursing (Kent State Univ. Press), winner of an Independent Publisher's Silver Medal. Recipient of an NEA Poetry Fellowship and three Connecticut Commission on the Arts Poetry Grants, Cortney is the poetry editor of the journal Alimentum: the Literature of Food.
Sleep my child, sleep.
Go to sleep, sleep.
Let sweet dreams come to you.
I've brought nurses for you,
the wind, the sun, and the eagle.
-Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The wind blows open the door at the end of the hallway. It is night, quite warm, and the
trees circle. Mother plays a prominent part-she takes the form of three cats. One is
hungry, waiting for breakfast. One is curled in a chair with kittens. The last is
sleeping. Then strangers ring the doorbell. I am sure they have come to shoot me.
Choosing life over death, I enter a field of sleeping lions. Their heads are massive as
buffalo. Their teeth are ivory, their hair fragrant with mats and brambles. They barely
rouse, yet they sing to me. I know them to be the great healers. Their yellow fires are
like small suns.
I fall in love with a flaxen haired boy, feathers sprouting from his elbows. We kiss and
become one sleek arrow flying over telephone wires that connect the houses in
Pittsburgh. Mother looks up. She sees that I am light, and lovely as a bird. Then
everything quiets, and the boy releases me. When the men take aim, I rise into the wind
that calls me.