Winter Father Persimmon Sleep

Poetry

as a child I couldn’t sleep
my parents tried ignoring me holding me
stroking fingers down my back
but still I cried into the winter nights
coyotes howled first one call a raindrop
and then a whole storm
of their chorus they’re hunting
a deer my father said
to make me sleep he told stories
about a possum who loved
a persimmon I did not know
it was a jewel of a fruit
that grew somewhere golden warm
I later found the book and realized
he hadn’t made up the stories for me
and must have read them as a child
when he lived in a place
with a different kind of coldness
now each night he lets in the new cat
because bears stalk the woods
and then he reads himself to sleep
while my mother knits a sweater
I once read the book but remember only
where it overlapped the shores of his
sleepless stories there was a possum
who loved persimmons his name
was Jim one time he was trapped in a tree
I try to recall the rest but it’s lost
to those long nights I don’t know why
I couldn’t sleep my thoughts maybe
were clotted with worries
I couldn’t yet have known
outside screech owls enacted murders
I’ve still never tasted a persimmon
I imagine it tastes like dawn