Historical setting: 590 C.E. Cottage between Annegray and Luxeuil
When two babies sleep the mother sleeps, the midwives get their rest, and so many thoughts and notions, remembrances and dreams race through my imagination just now. I can be the one who is awake to rock the cradle.
I can remember lullabies. It’s been a very long time since I’ve sung an actual song other than chanting psalms. At this moment I can sort of understand how lullabies get such strange lyrics. They are a low hum of music forced into breath in a fog of new birth, crazy world of light and life, mother screaming for life, father fainting for helplessness, and now the stillness of fatigue and need and hunger plunging more humans into the earthly world of need. What is there to eat? Send the little red bird off to find a seed, a bug, a twisting little worm — things only a famished dad would think of. There are no lullabies in my head that have any sense of reality. Whose imagination do they quill — baby’s or the father’s?
“All night long, we’ve worked so hard to keep these human babies safe, and now you can only sing of birds?”
Ana is awake and grinning at me across her pillow.
“Shhh they’re both sleeping now.”
“Well, don’t stop singing just because they’re sleeping.”
To Ana I sing,
“Laz, wake up. You can’t sleep when you are the one keeping watch.”
A baby is crying, and Ana caught me sleeping. Now Sister Paula has already come in with a clean wrap for the baby.