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Cover: Bedtime by Clare Elsaesser 

A Domestic Scene

Autumn, cold bites in early evening 
and I learn again the settings of the central heat.
Voices from above of women settling babies, playing with the water
in the bath, the most elemental changing, cleaning,
voices as happy as bells, laughter chiming. Then a silence
of nurturing sleep, security, as small limbs relax, clothes are lifted
from the floor. I have cleared away the wooden bricks
bar one, camouflaged on carpet, which stubs my toe. I pour
three glasses of wine as they come down the stairs, and close my book.

The fire draws well; the dead palm fronds
from my neighbour’s tree help it light 
but can uncurl, flaring, out of the fire and must be watched
with care. That wooden block, the chestnut
glistening in leaf litter, the pulsing fontanelle, all the complex
half hidden things need watched, need tended. 

Gréagóir Ó Dúill

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