Weekly Poem: ‘Miracle Blanket’

BY Tom LeGro  April 25, 2011 at 1:32 PM EDT

By Erika Meitner

My mother calls it
that straitjacket.
Do you still put
the baby to sleep
in that straitjacket?
she asks, and I say
Mom, you mean
the miracle blanket?
and she says yes,
the straitjacket,
and I have to
admit she’s right,
that it looks
like a straitjacket
for babies, especially
in the “natural” color
which resembles a tortilla
so when he’s wrapped
the baby seems like a
burrito with a head,
and some nights
the straitjacket
helps him sleep, but
some nights
it does not
though we follow
step-by-step
instructions
and we shush and
swing the baby
wrapped tight
in his straitjacket,
but he screams and
won’t go down,
which is what we
call sleep now —
going down, as if he’s
drowning in his
straitjacket at 3 a.m.
in our bedroom
and we want him
to drown — we’ll do
anything to make him
go down, even pray.
Nicholas of Tolentino,
the patron saint
of babies, is said
to have resurrected
over 100 dead children,
including several
who had drowned
together. He always
told those he helped
to say nothing of this.
Holy innocence, my son
in his miracle blanket
is sleeping. O faithful
and glorious martyr,
say nothing of this.

 

Erika Meitner is an assistant professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she teaches in the MFA program. She is also completing her doctorate in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. She has published three books of poems: “Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore” (2003, Anhinga Press); “Ideal Cities,” winner of the 2009 National Poetry Series competition and published in 2010 by HarperCollins; and “Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls” (2003, Anhinga Press).