Lullaby in Steerage

Listen to David Barber reading this poem. Bright globes to pluck with a twist, My sweet. Keep still while you can. Stars on your kitchen tiles, Birds that come to your hand. Streets like shipping lanes, Gosling: many will be yours. Save your breath for the bandstand Singalongs, save those tears For the moving picture shows. Roses threading the trellis, Dearest, roses under your cheek As you sink into pillow feathers, Pearls cool on your throat. By then your hair will be white, My lamb. By then you won’t believe That you were ever a howling babe Delivered up out of the sea. By then we’ll just be a story You’ll hear as you’re drifting off In your sky-blue room on visiting day, So hush now, precious, hush. Listen to them make us up And tuck you into my shawl. Listen, child, the channel buoys Are church bells after all.