A Poem about Motherhood

eight and a half years later

i can't say that i ever knew,
ever had the slightest fathoming
of the things i would find,
would understand
in a sweaty upper lip
a warm damp palm in mine
the eight eyes that follow me
trace me without really seeing me
only knowing me as the shell that
encloses, that webs and encases,
that lifts and cups and tamps:

my bending took form within and without me, in
that first eye opening, first gust of breath
in a hospital fragrant with death and life
i lost the entitlement i had.

i battled it, i really did. raged
because surely i would get my dazzle
in the sunlight. surely i was not now a servant
of tiny needs, the yawning gulf of desire
for food, for touch. walking the infinite hours
that should have been my sleep
covered with my own milk, waiting for
relief and then realizing that i was there
to give it.

fighting proved ineffective.

outnumbered and bent almost in half
i gave in to the bending
and straightened. i lost
and won. the stories that now make me
are curved like their cheeks, the lines of
their necks, the boats they make from paper
the origami creases, the dirty heels marking
me as they swing against my legs, the swirls
of crayon on the walls where there should be no
such thing, the hours sitting beside the toilet telling stories,
the food left in the bowls, all the coaxing
the sharp words, the sticks that are really swords, the climbing,
the jumping from high places, the naked soft limbs
in the water, the card games, the robots, the snakes
and dogs, the sheafs of paper dreams, the infinite mornings.

the infinite mornings.

i let them inside and they shaped me
i became fuzzy, rounded, looser, damper.
with force my new shape could not hold my old self,
the girl that i was
she would slip right through me,
i would lose her. but somehow,
--you know how this ends--
somehow stretched and matted,
glued and bent,
i have found her.



This is a blog poem, which means you got it off the cuff, spun right off of the shelf of my head, first thing in the morning with coffee and a pancake.

Happy Mother's Day, all. Especially to my mother.