Thursday, June 15, 2006

Poem for Poetry Thursday



Queen of the queen-sized bed,
she sleeps between us
arms outstretched like a plus sign

Then she rolls to her side,
back facing her true north father
Her fat foot buttressing my jiggly belly

Somehow she latches onto sleep, never fearing
that I could crush the life right out of her
with the body that gave it.

No--her snoring is a mother's aria
filling the room
with her sweet music.


Round midnight
She's gumming for me,
nudging for a swig of warm milk

I let down and she takes me in,
cupping her hands around
my milk-full breast.

And when she falls asleep,
crazy drunk, I pull away--
she continues to suck

as if I am still there.
The next morning,
her jagged little teeth rub me awake.

Under my blouse
my sore, cracked nipple
is a jewel of pain.

Find out more about Poetry Thursday.

Happy Poetry Thursday. I wrote this poem in April for National Poetry Month, but it seemed appropriate to post since I was up with my daughter (a.k.a. the human alarm clock) this morning. If you're a parent and you've had the experience of cosleeping with your child, then you can relate to sleeping with your child's foot in your back all night!

When Ella was 2 weeks old, she had a heart condition that presented itself abruptly and required surgery. That was a scary 24 hours, from symptoms to diagnosis to surgery and ICU. Fortunately, we discovered the problem quickly and she's is perfectly healthy now. I've thought often about writing about it but I think I'll save that post for her first birthday (woo hoo!).

As my pediatrician says, it takes a while to get over watching your child go through something like that. They always seem that much more fragile, even if they're good as new.

Still, this is the true jewel of pain I carry around with me every day.


Jennifer said...

so, so good - I just love your style. the real life moments you portray. your gift is amazing.

(your reply to the Donald Hall entry made me feel like a million bucks by the way - thank you)

wendylou who? said...

you'll understand this when she's a bit older, and you've stopped breast feeding..I'm about to pay you an UTLIMATE compliment...Reading your poem, i almost felt MY PHANTOM milk let was that real and uniting. You struck the mother's chord.

You, my friend, are a jewel!!

Left-handed Trees... said...

Your poem put me right back into those early stages of life with a baby. "Somehow she latches onto sleep..." so powerful and "The next morning, her jagged little teeth rub me awake./ Under my blouse my sore, cracked nipple/ is a jewel of pain." have nailed it here.

January said...

Not sure who coined the phrase, "white ink," but I think it's the thread that connects us as women and mothers and writers.

Ladies ... Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

paris parfait said...

Lovely poem - so evocative about those early months of motherhood. Thanks for sharing this.

Sarah said...

What a delicious slice of life you've captured here. My "babies" are now 10,7,and 4... but your poem brought back all the memories of co-sleeping with my wiggly little bundles of Joy. Thank you.

Star said...

I love your style, your perspective. This is my first visit to you blog...I'll definitely be back.

Thank you for your poem today.

Susannah said...

How beautiful this was... i'm not a mother (yet) but somehow my body understands your words intuitively

Cate said...

I rarely read anything that describes so perfectly what being a mother feels like--this is it, this does it.

Thank you for sharing your remarkable gift!

bb said...

I think it was Helen Cixous who coined the term 'white ink' -well she used it anyway!

Your eye for honesty and beauty makes this poem soar. Exhilirating!

Cam said...

A beautiful poem!

Dani said...

You capture daily reality and still manage to make it sound poetic. Today's poem brought up a memory of something that is no longer a part of my daily reality -- sleeping with my youngest son who had one almost-major illness after another during his first year. Thank you for sharing.

Neasa said...

Beautiful & real - as always!

OK, I'm not a mother (at least to two-leggeds)& on first reading, the poem scared me. Yes, me! I ran away. I came back. Read it again. Ran away again. Tip-toed back, felt a little calmer. Took courage in hand & found the poem's beauty past my scarediness.

Oddly enough, I wasn't scared at all by what you wrote about your daughter's medical emergency - typical nurse, me. But breastfeeding sent me packing???

I'm weird beyond belief. *sigh*

GreenishLady said...

I loved that beautiful poem. It's 18 years since I had milk, and I almost felt it again, so immediate is your description! Wonderful... and I love your sidebar poem too. Thank you.

GreenishLady said...

Oooh... I've just gone to read the other comments, and see I'm not the only one who responded physically to your poem. Yes. It was real, then!

kaleidoscope said...

Beautiful, January. There is such intimacy in this poem. How old is Ella now?

January said...

Ella is 10 months and Alex, my son, is 2 1/2. Hope to post to photos of the kids this weekend.

Thanks for your kind words.

Writing Blind said...

You just blow me away every time. You're the kind of poet I dream of being.

chiefbiscuit said...

Wow that is a powerful poem. It captures a stage of life very well. 'Plus sign', 'her true north father', 'gumming' I liked all those - and more.


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