À La Carte: To guide my son to sleep

I shut his blue eyes,
my hand still enough

to keep each iris closed.
I have learned both

to tie a curtain and silence
a candle with a thumb;

to dictate light these moments
I am most my father.

The night I stopped needing
his shadow beside my bed,

there was no protest: a lamp
buzzing in the hall; briefly,

a bow of slats beneath
his heavy gait. For years,

he must have rehearsed
the performance I study—

the way to exit a bedroom
quieter than a ghostlight.

Soon, my son could reach
for the darkness on his own.

I will listen for the snap
of an off switch, quieter

than a cricket’s torment
bottled in the basement.

It can’t be long before
I, too, descend an infinite

staircase, each wood buckle
fainter than the last, where,

eyes closed, I hear my father
step a little farther away.


Geoff Anderson is a Callaloo fellow and his chapbook, Humming Dirges, won Paper Nautilus’s Debut Series in 2017. He curated Columbus, Ohio’s first poetry shows for biracial writers, translations, and immigration. He is assistant poetry editor with FlyPaper Mag, and he has work in or forthcoming in Yemassee, RHINO, Southern Indiana Review, The Journal, as well as at www.andersongeoff.com.