Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord
my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.

-18th Century children’s prayer


Shortcut through a rail yard. Her deaf son does not hear the train. Judith Castle’s book Now I Lay Me Down…plangent prayer, invocation, blessing for the “waves carrying your ashes.” Above all, dirge sounding the two-stroke beat of loss and longing. In spare, evocative language, she details “mourning in the field of his world.” Tender, all-encompassing, poignant to the bone. Ulrike Narwani, Victoria, BC

There is reverence here. Each poem is a blessing for those children lost too soon – too deep. Judith’s rich images and haunting rhythms bring a fresh resonance to our own losses. Her use of language is delightful even as it darkens: “unhinge // salvation’s white horse / sand-tethered // to the window frame.” Her sadness is sometimes honed, sometimes soft. I felt she was holding my hand when she ends her poem with: “even in this wind-dark yard // A child knows that bricks can break / fall to dust, and blow away.” Sidney Bending, Victoria, BC

In Now I Lay Me Down, Judith’s poems introduce me to her sweet son, his life and his death, in ways I did not know him before now. I thank her for that. I wish I had known him, had a chance to play in the snow with him, mind him while she went out for a bit. The poems re-awaken the loss of my son Sean, also sunshine entering a room, and through the beauty of Judith’s words, they add another layer of healing to my loss. Deanna Barwick Wall, Montréal, QC

Something old and tyrannical
burning there
(Not like a wood fire which is only
The end of a summer, or a life)
But something of darkness, heat
From the time before there was fire.
And I have come here
To warm that blackness
into forms of light,
To set free a captive prince
From the sunken kingdom
of the father coal.

-Thomas McGrath