We were in a cold camp
at the feet of the Pacific Range,
stilled by darkness under austere stars
overseeing their silence.
A little boy in the next tent
panicked from a nightmare,
and a mother’s voice, firm and low,
drove in calm like a spike.
I could hear his wooden resistance,
his fibrous terror spreading apart
with each stricken enunciation until
her voice relaxed, switched to Spanish
and quietly sang a lullaby.
In the hills, coyotes yapped and howled,
while the mother’s voice rose and fell,
and the boy cried himself to sleep.
©Photo Credit C. Raley