06 October 2011

Facing Forward While Looking Back

What does a blogger do when she has blog-block? I'll start with a list and then offer two poems. The list is:

"A Week of Distractions, and Why I Cannot Start This Blog Post"

Baby taking first steps.
Baby teething, thus baby-holding ALL day long!
Baby with first fever ever, up all night taking temperature and assuring dad the baby is "fine" while excessively worrying, listening to breath after shallow sleeping breath with my finger on the doctor's number.
Keeping up with the patriotism of Occupy Wall Street!!
Working two day-jobs and getting to both on time!
Not-showering because of all of the above.
Making two cakes for two friends, one gluten-free and covered with strawberries, the other a tall chiffon.
Making fresh butter.
Planning a first birthday party for baby.

I sent my thesis to an old friend today. It's the first time the manuscript has really seen any quality attention since I graduated this past July. I was prompted to skim through the poems and learned once again, when in any kind of block, writing or otherwise, it helps to take a look back before going forward. I've been looking back a lot these days because my son's first birthday is close and I cannot believe a year has passed or what changes have occurred in him, and come to think of it, in myself as well. Last October, I was still in graduate school and typing out poems in the early hours of morning and into the night.

The following poems were written for my thesis, a collection of poems about family, death, pregnancy, and motherhood as I've experienced them thus far. "Crescendo" is a poem written after seeing the first ultrasound image of my son. "Motherhood I" was written in those first few days after his birth. Both poems are serving me now as I plan to write a letter to my new one-year-old over the next week. Not sure how to start such a letter, yet, I do know the act of looking back at his start is where to begin; those first impressions, those first fears and joys. It is my hope that the letter will be a way he can "remember", through my words, his first year of life. Chiffon batter, teething tears, revolutions, and all!!

The blue image of your spine on the ultrasound is translucent
yet appears solid as cast fossil imprints.
Your father, brought to tears, reaches for my hand in the warm room.
The monitor hums while the nurse coos at the clarity of your image.
We see you

yet I am not weeping, as I thought. I am in school-girl awe,
as when we first opened our Earth Science textbook
and learned of magma, river deltas and our collective core.
I can’t stop looking because your back is riveted, vertebrae
like ridges on a dry creek bed in August. How I smoothed my seven
year old fingers over the crusted work of rain, remembered, the sound
even, of Spring’s flushing clean

and my sense of the world-spin in tall grass and goldenrod.
I am looking at your movement, you are so much more than “tadpole,”
than “hummingbird” heart we see clear as the night sky
over desert or sea.
I am as a pre-teen crushed by first love,
breathless butterfly crush, kissed from the inside out,
the day moves forward slow, life suddenly refracted

and I know I am done for when I’ve looked at your moving
image we copied, first still-life portrait,
ten times in an hour. Like I’ve received your first
Valentine and I am blushing head to toe
with each new reading of your signature.
We see you

and it feels we’ve discovered
a new generation of species, like we are kid-
scientists alone in the wild and knowing we’ve found
evidence of something magic beyond our little
minds, unable to wait to tell anyone, everyone!
hysterically excited as we run and run and run.
We see you. 

Motherhood I

On the fifth day or so, I begin to realize
                                    this knot in my gut, in my throat,
            love and terror
at your dependence and perfection
            of fingernail and elbow,
will remain with me
until my last day. I can no longer walk away from my life.
            Beautiful baby: you’ve consumed my core
and for the first, I feel absolute.
            In an instant, knowing I would spend the rest of my life
building a ladder to the moon if it made you smile,
I begin to see what I’ve signed on for: something as involuntary
            as my need for water and air.

This is
             night upon night whispering in the dark
to the feathery hair on the back of your neck
                        how I love you more than the world
and it is truer than I could have imagined
            because I cannot remember life before you—
                        my memories somehow have you hovered there.

This is
            waking and fearing
the dream has distracted me from your tiny breathing chest.

This is
            walking from the kitchen door, through
the backyard carrying the garbage, because I need
the walk, after birth,
and the fresh air, and suddenly
it is the longest and the farthest I’ve gone from you
since you were conceived.

The appreciation for sunlight
            on my skin
                        is overwhelming as I panic
at the thought of our tether
being stretched this taut. 



jessie b said...

you are so lovely. and your poems have me in tears.

impossibleprincess said...

wow, annalee, those are really, really lovely.

Anonymous said...

I loved this one as well, keep it up..