Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Labor, past and present


What she was

What you will be.

The first, my grandmother

The second, my child

With me in the middle

Cradling both

One in the arms of memory

One in the embrace of the future.

They have the same name,

Though one has transferred to the spirit world

And the other is not yet born.

The two of them will deliver me,

Concetta, meaning Conception.

While she was letting go

of her ability to walk

curled up like an infant in a bassinet,

You are kicking aggressively

Against my engorged abdomen

Like an Olympic swimmer in a baby pool.

When I spoke to her,

At times she could not hear the words spoken

But understood the meaning on my face.

When I speak to you, the language is not important;

Your hand and foot curl against either end of me

In response.

It is the touch

That most impressed

And impresses them both.


Will delivering you

Be as difficult as it was

Delivering her?

The arduous months of holding on

like an animal

Caught in a trap

it could only hope to escape

By losing some part of itself.

The gift of acceptance

coming only after the hollow scream

at her bedside

after exhaustion

from fighting the inevitable.

She had escaped.

Let the acceptance come sooner this time.

Let me not fight

whichever way my daughter chooses to come into this world,

the way I fought how my grandmother chose to leave this world.


You need a lot of patience

To go through all the phases of labor.

You must sit at the side of the bed

And hold her hand

Sing her songs

Apply strong pressure to her back,

Pushing her by centimeters into what’s to come.

She must be able to grip you strongly

You must be able to stand up under such weight

You must look at your watch,

Not to see when this will all be over,

But to help her count,

To measure breaths more than time.

Your love for numbers can be shared now.

Contract for 30 seconds, rest for 5 minutes.

This is only the beginning,

Reserve some energy for the hours to come.

Contract for 45 seconds, rest for 3 minutes.

Keep some strength for the pushing to come.

Contract for minutes, rest for seconds.

Hold onto hope for the life to come.


Death is measured

Watched over



Worried over

Wondered about

Prayed through

Lifted up with our hearts

Into our throats

In ways similar to life.

One woman delivers her mother

Into the next world

And feels as a mother giving birth.

She has labored intensely.

There is a heavy overwhelming ache

And stripes of pain

That cannot be alleviated through an IV.

Afterwards, she hopes for a release

That allows her to walk from the bed to the trees,

To look above and into the skies,

The way her mother looked into her eyes

When she was born.

I hope to feel the birth,

To be aware

To trigger some memory that was my grandmother’s before

And has since been forgotten.

This pain may be a gift

Of understanding

That carries across generations.

Or it may be a stoic dream

That I may not be able to carry.


I cannot start the garden,

Because I cannot bend over,

Cannot dig with a shovel.

The seed has already been sewn.

There will be a greater unearthing soon.


There is a large muscular man

Who insists that I say certain words

To appease his ego,

Or else he will hurt me,

Will beat me up.

I say something defiant

And refuse to change my words.

He replies, “I’ll be back,”

Meaning that the next time he returns

Will be the reckoning moment.

Even though I anticipate his return,

I know I will respond in the same way

Each time.

My father stands as a barrier

Between the muscular man and me.

He does not speak,

But makes it clear by the look in his eye

That this man is not to lay a finger on me.

The muscular man returns again and again

And we repeat the same script.

There are times when he returns in minutes

And times when he returns in seconds

And times when I fear he will actually

be able to take a hold of me and hurt me.

I tense up my body and hold my pregnant belly

With anxiety.

When he leaves each time,

I relax and let go a little more,

Realizing it is my response

That lessens or maximizes his power.

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