Giving Birth Makes the Mind Mortal

Last night my  3.5 year old got into bed with me. I slept between him and my 5 month old– as Jonas said when he woke up “you’re like a big burrito with us wrapping around you, Mom.” Exactly how I felt, I guess, as I woke and noted the matted state of my hair from tossing and turning and trying to stay comfortable between them all night.

A glance in the mirror as I got out of bed reminded me that I have two, more or less triangle shaped, bald spots above my temples from hair that is falling out. Last pregnancy, too, you could trace my path by following the hair I left everywhere I went. Shedding. At least this time, I know that this will end and my hair will return. I know my body will continue to  change over the next two years and somehow, I feel so much more able to just relax into these things.

I think that Elias’ birth, the second birth, may have finally cracked  something I otherwise have never been able to crack: the hypersensitive relationship to my own body– the complicated love and hate of having a body married to a mind that wraps itself around culture and expectations, and is, yet, merely mortal. How can one articulate the depth of a woman’s struggle to inhabit her body mind with grace? Birth has taught me something about this that I find hard to articulate– birth has taught me a love of myself that is intricately tied to a painful sense of my mortality, and the mortality of my children.

I am working on a series of poems– trying on that form of reflection that I once wore so comfortably– I find that it is helping me to discover something of the power of this new place , this new space, I find myself in. Here’s one of my most recent drafts:

As the horizon holds the morning

This body grew like morning–

abruptly  in my mother’s womb

jettisoned into light and motion

as flesh bones sound muscle.

 

It came to know itself as girl woman mother–

a study done and redone, but so seldom

held as the horizon holds the morning.

 

The mind and body meeting

in me found conflicts of interest

that bolted through sinews

to become strange currents

of movement and of thought.

 

Giving birth makes the mind

as mortal as the flesh.

And the horizon that holds

our rising becomes tender–

as painful as soft feet on small pebbles.

 

The grace of being here for this strangely passing

season of light and dark, gives me a largeness

of  body, a hugeness of  limited space, to welcome

life and love and softness for a time–

 

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