Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
I Will Hold You

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While the moon is still high
I hear your cries pierce any hope
of a good night's sleep.
You make out my shadow and
your arms rise up as your voice
calls me to calm you
with the magic balm of Mother.

I whisper I am here, there,
there, it's okay. I will carry you
on swaying hips, hypnotic
as a ship softly dancing on waves.
Let my lips brush your flushed cheeks
let your fever evaporate through pores
let your head rest against my chest
let my heart lull you back to sleep
let the steps of our lullaby waltz
set the pace for your labored breath
let the air flow in and out easy
as the tide of a still and steady sea.

I will hold you
'til the first glint of white
rubs its way through your swollen gums
'til the day breaks free from its nocturnal cage
and the gray light bathes the fields awake
'til the dawn washes darkness from the sky
I will hold you.

I will hold you
while all other souls rest
in the peace of these walls, of their dreams
in this night, I will hold you.
I will hold you
'til your cries subside into the sigh of fatigue.
I will hold you 'til you can no longer hold
the weight of your own eyelids
as they overtake your drive to see
to remain awake and in pain
I will hold you
'til the unbearable strain of childhood becomes bearable.
I will hold you 'til your sippy cup is half full.
I will hold you 'til the needs or nightmares of a sibling
become louder than yours.

I will hold you
while minutes melt hours into days into years
I will hold you 'til my arms can no longer carry.
I will hold you 'til you no longer reach for me
'til you find comfort in the arms of another
or the solace of solitude
until then, I will hold you
I will hold you 'til then.

Diana Ayton-Shenker lives in Rhinebeck, New York, with her husband and their three children. She is founding president of Global Momenta and senior director of Constituency Development for Mercy Corps and has published two books about the U.N. Her poems have appeared in Chaminade Literary Review, Hyphen, Midstream, Paris/Atlantic, The Portland Review, Shemom, Slipstream, Spire, and Tamaqua.

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