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.