Since the baby came certain things are on pause—
it’s hard to find time to write, to think,
to grieve, to pray
except through my body as I rock and sway,
rock and sway my little one to sleep.
Other things are going fast-forward—
there’s no stopping kids growing,
squabbling, questioning everything
and making messes everywhere I look.
In the anxious moments of early morning,
my mind tries to rewind,
to second-guess and over-analyze
but there’s no going back.
What I’m forgetting
as I grasp for control
and it slips like sand though my fingers
is the one button I need to press:
Play right now, as things are
in the mess and chaos of my 8 kids
doing silly dances and laughing,
finding a moment of togetherness.
Be right now—
allow myself to have a moment alone
walking under the cherry blossoms—
stopping to listen to the hummingbird
who sings above me
pointing it’s tiny beak heavenward,
little messenger of my Dad.
Embrace right now with its little inspirations to
to snuggle my down-soft baby
and write an imperfect poem,
unpausing my frozen voice which felt
unable to speak
unworthy of being heard
afraid to crack open bitter walls of strength
Just press play.
Earlier this week, while trying to recover my homeschool room from the storm that was unsupervised making of thanksgiving posters and crafts, and involved strewing crayons and paper all over the floor, I discovered an old poem I had written years ago, in a beat up spiral notebook. I thought it had been lost forever, and regretted it as I could only remember the first metaphor in it, and wanted to know the rest.
The poem was written early my fourth pregnancy, which followed rapidly on the heels of my third, and writing this poem was part of my trying to wrestle through my mixed emotions I had at the time. Funny how blessings come in disguise…despite my misgivings, this little baby girl turned out to be my most gentle, sweet, affectionate and undemanding child. Her siblings have said this themselves, in all honesty. We are all blessed by her quiet kindness. Here she is a toddler…now she is 9!
Without further ado, here is the old poem from my notebook, long before my blogging days began. I’ll transcribe it above the photos, so you don’t have to try to decipher my scrawl.
I am like a winter tree
laid bare, stripped, naked,
yet secretly bursting with spring,
life swelling through my bare windswept skin.
I feel at once empty and ravenous
as a winter wolf or a nursing bear
emerging after a winter of sleep…
Yet inside me is a miniature universe,
a tiny piece of the puzzle of humanity,
forming rapidly in the dark warmth
of my womb.
I feel like a shipwrecked treasure chest
washed up on shore,
a waterlogged vessel filled with diamonds,
waiting to sparkle for the first time in the sun.
Inside me, a heart the size of a pea
is beating its way toward laughter, sorrow and love.
A matter of months,
and beauty will be born again.
In my last post, “Spot the Difference” I posted two pictures that my daughter drew of our family, and asked readers to spot the difference. Perhaps you’re all too busy with summer holidays to read or comment, or were simply hesitant to wager a guess, so here are a few more pictures that should make things a little more obvious.
And here’s the family member who isn’t in the photo, for the simple fact that this little bean didn’t exist yet, except, as the saying goes, as a twinkle in her father’s eyes. ✨
My sister has dubbed our new little one Timbit, because this is how James and I announced the baby to our other kids: we brought home a box of Timbits and told the kids we had a little piece of news for them, one currently smaller than a Timbit. After several guesses about things like Daddy buying me jewellery or something, and a hint that the news would not stay the size of a Timbit, the excited kids realized it was a baby.
Yup, it’s kinda crazy, but at this point, may as well own the crazy. Thinking of getting such a jersey for the baby to save trouble at the grocery store: “Oh, how cute! Is this your second? Third? Fourth?”
You get the idea. Lucky #9!
The toddler tumbles like laughter
over the dry grass.
Disregarding all signs of mourning,
she chases the crows with open delight.
She greets everyone she sees,
all the mummy’s and daddies and “bapa’s,”
convinced each one is part of her family.
She even ambles after a thin, pink-shirted man
with a slight bend in his back,
calling: “Bapa! Bapa!”
When we reach her sister’s grave
she sits happily on my lap,
and leans over to pat the “Staahhh.”
I tell her it’s Josephine, a name she can’t yet say.
Unphased, she takes her nursing blankie
and flaps it about and pats it
until her sister’s stone is nicely tucked in
with her name peeking above the blanket.
“Baby, nigh, nigh,” she tells me.
Then grabbing her blankie
she trundles off to seek new adventures
and waves, “Baa-bye!”
trusting I will follow.
I kiss the dusty stone
Darling, I’d like to write you beautiful poems
after your long awaited arrival
and the desperate relief of the moment
you came slipping out like a selkie
from the waters inside
and beached yourself on my belly….
But right now I’m in such a happy bubble
that all I can think of is silly mama speak
you little pink piglet sweetie pie flower bud
baby blossom wonderful one
You are warm
You are safe
You are here
You are here
You are here
“Must I tiptoe, Mother, into this world?
Tread so softly I won’t be noticed—
hold in my newborn cries
in a wake of silence
for the one gone before me?
Must I pretend I am not here?”
“No, my little love, no,
for we want you and the world needs
your little bright light
as much as any other.
There is no one else
who could ever be you.”
The leaves blush crimson
and purple plums swell;
their dark bloom
splits open sweet flesh
and reveals the kernel of new life inside.
And so my round belly will
swell, blossom, bloom
and I’ll split open
revealing the flesh of my flesh
bone of my bone
seed of my hope
fruit of my love…
And from my fragile flesh—
my heart split open—
the seed of new life be nourished
and a new tree will grow.