Sunday, January 27, 2008

On Newborn Babies

I forgot how the smell of new life rises up in delicate spirals from their skin;
How when you wake them up, they stare at you with wonder painted on their faces.
I love to hold them as they stretch: back arched, eyes screwed close, arms over their heads and
knees drawn up to their chest. No one else can stretch like that.
I am not silly enough to think it will or want it to last forever,
But I forgot about the perfect miniature bones in their hands and fingers
And the first time they hold your gaze and smile back at you.

This baby--this call to motherhood--is the epic journey of my life.
And though it will probably never be realized in story or in song,
Being ordinary does not make it any less extraordinary
to me.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sonnet for my husband (written 12/06)

You are spring rain falling on my parched earth
To soothe the ache that comes from my soul’s growth.
So you, with soft tones and with sweet caress
Bring solace to my heart, to my mind, rest.
You are the heat of summer. As the dusk
Exposes sunset tendrils of that fast
Descending fire, so your touch envelopes
Me. I breathe your heat. And then I know love.
When autumn comes, with winter close behind,
And our full years are playing out their time,
You are the colors—dappled, rich, and deep—
That fill life’s canvas; you interpret me.
So our love is not bound by years or times;
We’ve trussed our souls to new eternities.

Monday, January 14, 2008

when a baby is born

You're pushing--or trying not to push but just let your body do the pushing for you--and there's this moment where you know, if you just bear down and push through everything (through the pain and the pressure and the stretching and the burning and the bizarre way you can feel your baby's head descending through the birth canal and making a break for it), you will push the baby out and you will be done. So you push, even though you're supposed to just pant or something and let your body push so that you don't tear, but the last time you did that, she crowned and then went back inside, and that is NOT going to happen again. So you push, and it burns, and you think you're going to tear apart, but then, after the pressure is so great you wonder how the universe can still be in one piece, her head slips out and her body after it and all the pain is gone, instantly, like it never happened, like the whole twelve hours of everything you've just been through was only a dream--no, not even a dream, it was someone else's dream and they told you about it and for half an instant, you believed in it, but no, it was only a dream. So you push through to that moment and then it's over and they drape the baby over your naked stomach and chest. She's howling and sliding around on you because they didn't even wipe her off much first, and she feels so warm that you don't ever want them to take her off of you. And you look at her eyes shut tightly against the light and her mouth open wide in a loud protest of being born and her little hands, curling into fists like they're trying to grab a hold on you to push themselves back in and in that moment, you are irrevocably bound to this tiny life for the rest of eternity.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

on giving birth to Auralee

"try to ride the contraction
like a wave,"
my midwife intones, but I
have never surfed before

so when I feel it coming, I try
to swim out to it,
to roll over in my mind
and let it carry me along

when that doesn't work, I try
to let it wash over me--
that should be soothing--
but it doesn't

In theory, I know how to relax,
how to embrace the contraction,
how to interpret the pain as pressure

but when it comes, I am never,
ready for it

and instead of relaxing, all I do is try
to hold still;
some part of my body always gives me away:
a curled toe or a clenched fist

and this is not pressure
this is hell
this is worse than hell because
if it were hell, I would be dead,
and I don't think dead people feel pain

And when it's over, I lay there,
gasping for breath,
and unable to hold still
(although everyone says I am not shaking)

what do they know?
I have already learned that,
when the next one comes,
no one will be there with me.