Catullus for babies

Look at you, balled up
asleep like the sun.

You have lived your whole life.
You have hardly begun.

You rise up
not just in the mornings

but again and again
through the night —

a sun out of sync,
a mad dawn that repeats

days running up
and over the screen

like a TV with the tracking
on the blink —

How many sleeps
till the morning?

Let’s roll it all up
into one.

Anna Jackson lives in Jackson Street, Island Bay, with husband Simon Edmonds and children Johnny and Elvira. She lectures in American literature at Victoria University. Books of poetry include The Pastoral Kitchen (2001), and Catullus for Children (2003).

Jackson comments: ‘ “Catullus for Babies” is one of a series of poems reworking the much-translated poetry of the Roman poet Catullus. Marvell’s poem about “time’s winged chariot hurrying near” is one of the better known versions of the Catullus original, a seduction poem, arguing that we might as well make love now, as unlike the sun, once we have gone down below the horizon, there will be no more coming up for us. To me, still recovering seven years later from the sleep deprivation baby Elvira put me through, this just seems very restful. Rather than worry about the day when we won’t be getting up in the morning anymore, the mother of a young baby just looks forward to the day when she won’t be getting up again and again through the night.’

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