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2005-02-14 11:06 PM
February 11, 2005
birth, motherhood—not for the faint-hearted:
On the eve of my daughter’s second birthday
Two years ago tonight
You woke me up in the dark morning.
You had done so once before,
And many times since, too many to count,
all of them melted together into a single blurry sleepwalk—
But this time I remember.
I made us a cup of tea,
to see if you were serious.
Your morse code continued,
a long hard dash—pause. again and again,
a constant rhythm, but irregular too,
not a sine wave, but
quiet ocean endlessly kissing the shore.
Then all was still, and I rested briefly,
nestled in the first sigh of daybreak.
I woke, the day slanted on,
and still you would not conform to the clock,
moving instead in your own syncopation:
a 6/8 lilt, a 4/4 march, a 3/4 waltz—
but you were moving,
around the world,
candles were lit for your birth:
candles for Peace, Courage and Strength,
and other clichés I helplessly craved.
They flickered on coffee tables,
in dorm rooms and cubicles;
and a circle of women who already loved you
tended the tiny flames.
In the early evening,
the second act began with
a seismic shift,
a surge of water,
and more waiting,
waiting that was urgent,
A place was prepared,
and we went there, together,
and it was clean, and quiet, and dim.
As the channel widened,
The world narrowed.
There was only a room,
a soft cotton shirt,
and the patient eyes of your father,
breakers pounding upon sand,
eroding away sharp-edged dunes.
And then, there was the final task:
and I’m ashamed to say,
you ceased to exist.
It was all about the work,
it was innate,
There was no you,
nor even me,
there was only unyielding
action, verbs with no nouns.
It took me a while to return.
Even after your cry
(should I have snapped back
then? I tried. I clawed through heavy dream air
but was still far away)—
even after a quick slippery embrace,
then a dance of efficient activity
with you in my peripheral vision,
I returned in pieces,
got reassembled, but slowly,
slower than I could have imagined.
But that is as it should be.
Whatever got left behind
I don’t need, and the patchwork
that is me now
is complete enough,
and strong enough,
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