To my daughter who is still sometimes, but not always, afraid of the dark.
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“I’m afraid of the dark,” she says, clutching her sheets to her nose.
“There’s a monster in the corner. I can see its hairy toes!”
“What, this?” I say, bending behind the rocking chair,
To grab a pile of fluff. “It’s your favorite teddy bear
Drowning under a pile of your dirty clothes.”
“But what about that shadow?” she points to the wall beyond.
“It has to be a ghost because it’s making a scary sound!”
I pat her on the head and pull back the curtains to let in the feeble light.
“See? The branches are scraping on your windows. Its shape gave you a fright.
And that sound? Just the wind whistling through the reeds on our small duck pond.”
She’s getting sleepy now, and her eyes begin to close, but she has one last fear
to put to rest before I leave the room. “Don’t leave me, mama. Please, stay with me here.
The darkness is so scary. I don’t want to be alone.” I stroke her hair and kiss her cheeks,
and sing a quiet song. “Nothing here can hurt you. No ghost or monster or nighttime squeaks.
Just hold me in your heart, my child, and I’ll be ever near.”
©Sara Ackerman, 2016