Good Night to a Little Girl

PETER KANE DUFAULT
She has gone across the road
with some pine cones in a bag
the size of herself.
She has butted it through her door
and—exit. She disappears
with her swag and pelf
of a day’s wars.
She may take the field again
tomorrow — that pocket-high
Queen, Victoria,
toast of her pine-cone grenadiers. Or cross the street
with slant eye and damp hair, a
nymph or sea sprite.
She nibbles her long hair ends.
You might think they’d been strewn
on the water —
indeed were but brown strands
of seaweed, hiding shells —
little Neptune’s daughter —
starfish and pearls.
Sometimes when brooding doves
utter their cool dull
hymns in the morning,
then I almost believe
I hear conch shells: It is she
who calls, returning
faint peals from the sea . . .
I am sad when she goes home.
As if already tomorrow
she might reappear,
changed — laughing at pine cones,
myths, dreams an old idler saves
out of drowned empires
and the far-off waves.