Friday, February 17, 2017

Cono Morning (written fall 2008)

Tender new morning light peeks through my blinds
I hear the familiar thud and padding of feet
Clad in footed princess pajamas
Coming tentatively down the hall

They stop at my door
I pretend to be asleep
Wishing she will give up
And pad her way back to bed

The door cracks open
Through squinted eyes
I see such sweet wispy blond curls
Such hopeful blinking blue eyes
That I can’t help but smile

Her mouth, curled tightly around a shriveled thumb,
Breaks into a grin and her eyes leap with joy
She laughs, dashes for my bed,
Dingy pink blanket dragging behind,
And scrambles up beside me

Snuggling in, she wrinkles her nose in a grin
And nuzzles my face
“I wuv you, Mommy”
I nuzzle back and breathe her hair in

There is a thumping from the hall
A crib rail vigorously thudding back and forth
Then the banging of a sippy cup on the wall
Hannah is delighted, “Emma’s awake!”

I hoist my heavy, pregnant belly out of bed
Hannah runs ahead of me, “I want my juice!”
The banging continues, faster now
“Stop it, Emma!” an annoyed voice calls

Now it is me peeking in their door
Emma is pleased
She smiles, binky dropping from her mouth
And strains to reach me over the crib rail

Naomi rolls in her bed,
Brushes her long, frizzy hair from her face
“Mommy, Emma woke me up”
“Me too” I sigh

Now there are six feet clad in footed jammies
Toddling, thudding eagerly to the kitchen
Jumping in anticipation
As I dole out watered down juice into three sippy cups
They gulp happily

Hannah blinks up at me,
“Mommy is your baby kicking?”
“Not right now”
“I think our baby is nocturnal” Naomi advises
My baby’s kicking,” Hannah beams
Then lifts her shirt, “Wanna feel it?”

I place my hand on her tiny, thin tummy
And pretend to feel a kick, she is satisfied
I gaze at their faces, their eyelashes, chapped cheeks
And try to memorize each detail

Some morning I will wake up alone
It will be a foggy memory
I want this morning to be as crisp and alive then
As it is now

Some morning sleep will be plentiful
But there will be no wrinkled, grinning nose to nuzzle mine
No footed jammies to lead me to the kitchen
Some morning this morning will be a memory

Prognosis (Poem for Naomi, written around 2011)

Infinitely complex
Untenably marred
Boundlessly resilient
This child in my arms

Swollen belly
Crooked feet
Crossing eyes
Murmured beat

Liver scarred
Kidney cysts
Endowments of
A genome glitch

Devalued, dismissed
I cradle my girl,
Shielding her spirit
From a misjudging world

Which gene encodes
Her gift for art,
Her passion for books,
Her merciful heart?

What nucleic acid
Could portend
Her affection for horses
Her first best friend?

And which base pair
Might empower
Her compassion for
A frost-nipped flower?

Which locus holds
Her giddy smile?
What helix encrypts 
The soul of a child?

What white-coated Einstein,
What world-wide reserve
Of human insight
Can presume her worth?

Infinitely complex
Untenably marred
Beyond their prognosis
A child in my arms

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wanderlust and Dinner

It isn't that there is anything wrong here
It's more that I am here again
Here at the kitchen sink with my hands in luke-warm water
Scraping bits of sticky dried bread from the bread-maker pans

Here pulling steamy silverware out, putting greasy silverware in
Crunching Rice Chex under my feet and sighing
And sweeping
And wiping

Here filling bread-maker pans with water, oil, and yeast
No measuring spoons needed
Each bit slipping in from memory
And I'm unsure whether this automated accuracy
Amazes or disgusts me
This orchestrated kitchen dance
My pride and my drudgery


Lord, I'm gagging here
Gagging on monotony
Send me anywhere, but not to dinner
Not to the quiet, not to the usual
Not to the faithful ordinary

Please, poet friends, take me away
Sarah, Audrey, Andrew, Rich
With my hands in the water
Sing my heart out of this
Lord, help me offer this

Deep breath in
Smile at these tiny hungry taskmasters
Catch them in a hug as they run by
Reign me back from wanderlust
From all the worlds I'd rather spend today in
Heart, don't choke on those sweet lies

Potatoes, wash potatoes
Slice the peppers, thaw the meat
Find the rhythm and the music
In the steady, in the staying
In the never trading them for me
The offering

In a world of leavers leaving
Wandering after their dislocated souls
Stay. Right. Here.
With your hands in the water, dear heart
Stay here and decide to sing

Stay and chop potatoes
Pour yourself out again
And again
In the ordinary
In the never-heroic, rarely-seen, often-snubbed
And when you stay, dance

Set a table with stability
Less of me
More of "How was your day?"
(I wanted to run screaming from the kitchen but I didn't)
"Are you hungry? I made a plate for you"
"It's in the fridge, do you want me to warm it up now?"

It isn't that I'm doing anything grand here
It's more that I'm cleaning up dinner again
In a world of leavers leaving
Here with my hands in puke-warm water
Elbow-deep in monotony
In less of me
This heart is set on staying
And tonight is set in peace