The birthing, that was necessary.
The excruciating parting of our bodies, that was necessary.
Roman poets put skulls in their love poems--the mortal with
the immortal; the dark and the light; the beautiful plum falling
from its branch, and then sweetly decomposing. You see, I grieved
as though my heart would give out, thinking my body had started
to fail you--after you passed through me--your doll-body in a gush
of red, smaller even than they had warned us, followed
by a blackened placenta. You were small as a bird, wingless,
fragile-boned, skin so diaphanous I could count your veins.
I think, daughter, you made desire seem so easy: Your simple,
radiating hunger was to live. Yet, the weeks in the neo-natal
intensive care unit, I carried a wild loss: waiting for test results,
waiting for the why. You slept in my arms, drank my milk, put
on ounces--I held you, part, but not part of me, feeding tube wire,
heart monitor wire and IV line. Even with the news that the placental
abruption was a fluke, that you were perfectly formed in mind and body,
I couldn't love my body enough to let the dark merge into the light:
to just feel the joy of you.
Now, I kiss the base of your baby neck, your skin: golden,
soft, so fragrant that closing my eyes I imagine it smelled like this
inside my belly--earth just damp, green shoot piercing through the dark,
honeysuckle musk pungent as lifeblood. A place not for the queasy
or the weak, home of the roaring heart, a sac where your life began--
a small universe where no time became time, you became bone and body,
solid self, my blood, yours, until there was no more me: And now,
when I say, Where's your angel? you pat your shoulder with an
ancient sort of kindness and smile: So, you are teaching me to live.