Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood


I look up. Across the water park,
a woman staggers as if out of a surrealist painting,
her mouth, a twisted pit amid
the running and splashing, her repeated calls
to her lost child drowned out.

The water turned off, everyone sits.
Staff range through the park,
and I start remembering -- the pink scraps
of membrane floating out from my body,
adrift in the bath water. That night in Tofino,
how I fled the tub, daubing myself,
scrutinizing stains on tissues and towel
as if they were omens. Until morning,
I curled my limbs around you
to seal in the ten weeks of your life.
The clinic doctor searched in vain
for your heartbeat. All meaning reduced --
to see you twirling and flipping again
on the screen. Next day, I returned to the city.
Through the Doppler, your heart's tiny drum
signaled -- all clear! You were back, reemerging
like the boy tucked away in the park, astonished
to find he'd been lost.

How his mother holds him
as she walks through the holiday of water,
the way I held you, every cell of you
cupped within my body's fierce cradle.

“Walking” is an excerpt from Fiona Tinwei Lam‘s second book of poetry, Enter the Chrysanthemum (2009). She is
a co-editor of Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood (2008). A single mother of a young son, she lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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This is a powerful piece - you have captured the essence of a particular mother-love-panic that I have felt before...the imagery of this poem will stick with me.
So frightening, both the potential losses. So well done. I love the term "fierce cradle."
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