Cradle Gifts

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I remember
when you slept in your cradle. I sang to you.
The sound of forever was in my throat, a sweet-silver flow.

I remember how your rose petal hand patted my shoulder as I carried you.
Many days, then, lay ahead for us to
gather and release to each other.

But now, my long-expected end game begins.
Will you begin to carry me?

The tight-woven threads of our lives
begin to wind down. They are worn, and much mended.

The cycle turns, and I ask you to be
ready for my childishness, my inexperience.
I have grown tired.
You now take up your own new-washed wool.
You, now, will hold your spindle, you will work your own loom.

The steps of my end-game are in play, yet from out of our longing
will we not yet have gifts to share?

Love is with us, alive,
and there is gratitude.
There is shine, glow.
There is gifting, lifting, holding.

And we have colors, they bloom between us.
Threads in every shade of red:
Vermillion, crimson, rose, cinnamon, and among them, every scarlet bloom,
every hint of lavender, every smudge of purple,
and within all, hidden gold:
A fresh drop dewed inside every single shade.

We will wear them.
We will weave them.
Their beauty comes of long practice.

What about peach?
Do we yet have peaches to draw in,
fresh and sweet, dripping with cream?
Strawberries, to pass from my hand to yours?
And, from yours to mine.

I see that green is here, it vines up through the whole
twining, seeking, mending, flowing
until our path, much budded, brings us beyond each other,
and a step closer to dawn.

I remember the ancestors standing with me
When you were born. When I showed you to them.
Generous they were, with their gifts.

And I taught you to tend what they brought for you,
to trim, patch, rework each one.

They were handed from me to you, you to me, and back,
and back again.
Each time our work was more true-fitting, softened. By care.

Before I go, just before I leave
can you find for me a sugarplum, just like those I once gave to you?
The taste lingered long in your soul. How fresh it will be in mine.

And, as these gifts spill from your hand, from your throat,
as you stand by the cradle of your own small child,
as you cover her with the colors we have long gathered,
soft and bright, ancient and new,
your child hears that same forever sound, the singing of a sweet-silver flow.

She gathers much already,
from both of us.
She is our new moon set silver-rose fresh into the evening sky.
She carries forward these Cradle Gifts
from my hand to yours,
from your hand to hers,
she will wear them

Does she come to us knowing
just how to hold us?

Darlene Witte
Darlene Witte

Professor of Education, (retired) at Johnson State College in Vermont leads the Green Mountain Writers' Poetry & Performance workshop that meets on Zoom each month on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 7 PM ET. Find out more at

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