There will be no excuses, no explanations, not a word of guilt or shaming. I simply don't have time to explain why I am attempting a blog-revival yet again, though one place to start is to say this:
I have suddenly begun to write a little again in the recent weeks, and I am going to roll with it.
The following is a draft (a DRAFT) of a poem I've been working on. Comments or suggestions welcome, though seeing that I post about every few years, I may not take your suggestions. Though I will cherish them.
"On Hearing of the Death of a Friend's Son, While Postpartum with My Second Child"
There is a phenomenon known to mothers only.
It is the auditory hallucination of a child crying while you are standing in the shower,
hurried and rapidly washing, only to come out and the child
is still breathing in his sleep in the basinet.
Or an hour after the bedtime rocking and singing and cooing and hushing and
shhhh ssshh shshsh ssshhing has finally stopped,
you are at the kitchen table, alone with a book, and through the refrigerator buzz,
or the heat clicking on, you hear the real muffling sound of the baby
fussing in her room across the house,
only to find her still and dreaming when you rush to the side of her crib.
What must the mother continue to hear after her child dies? I suspect this hallucination
becomes ever stronger, and as we miss their breath
their muffled selves just beyond the curtain to the other world,
how could we possibly hear anything else?
I am driving across town to pick up my son from preschool.
I have just weeks earlier given birth to my daughter.
I am a wreck of nerves, postpartum "baby-blues", and sleep deprivation
like no one knows, mothers only know.
I am driving. It is the shock of my friend losing her son that comes to me in the car.
It's been a few days since I heard the news, and I cried then,
but this mundane task,
is suddenly how I think of her
because in my condition, after birth, the hormones,
I am as fragile as I have ever been and I imagine she is also.
I imagine driving to the store could be the most impossible task for her right now.
My exhaustion is from the hard hard work that is bringing in a new life
to this world, the attention, the fear, the awe, the unbearable responsibility and coping.
Her exhaustion is the hard hard work of grief that is to lose life
the attention, the fear, the awe, the unbearable coping and sleeplessness.
So I think of her, at the traffic stop.
In this pause, in my state of what it takes to nurse
all night a newborn, the drained body and mind, I suspect she feels the same.
And I weep.
Because how can this lovely being of newness in my daughter
be so frighteningly similar to my friend's loss and pain?
I am mourning her loss, yes, but I am mourning her work as a mother.
Her hard hard work in those early days with him.
How we do the dailyness of mothering despite what could happen,
despite what they will become, their own selves we must release to the world and its many demons and graces.
I am mourning her sore nipples, yet her son's head pressed to the breast
in the closest moments they will ever share and this moment is infinity.
Eyes locked and in desperate desperate love for the other.
Mothers only know this.
I am mourning her cramped calves because we've both been in the bathroom
the kitchen, the front porch, the stairway,
wherever we needed to be with the newborn and their utter inability to sleep
I am mourning all the steps she took to keep him settled and asleep
in the darkness of the house.
Because I know this work right now, it's all very present
so present and immediate, the care of the infant.
We forget there will ever be an adult
after this, we forget because if we truly thought about it, we'd cripple at the idea in those early weeks.
So we nurse and dance and hum and wash and rock and sway and nurse again instead.
I am mourning her hallucinations and dreams we've all had, mothers know,
for our babies. For our babies. Before they are men or women and make decisions of their own.
I am at a stoplight in tears because this work is impossibly hard.
In the beginning
and the end.
And what I know, is that we don't ever stop listening for our babies in the next room. Even after they've grown