Yerushalmi on memory & history
The early history of Jews in Muslim lands

Another mother poem: Weaning






You push me away
and reach for the bottle.

Once in Scotland I parted
spongy turf with my fingers

and water welled up like sorrow
its source unknown.

In my childhood playhouse
the table was always set

for guests who never came.
Already my body is shrinking.

You settle like a little king
into the crook of my arm

one hand seizing
the plush belt of my bathrobe

the other splayed
across the warm cylinder.

Your lashes drift down
and your restless legs still

exactly as they did
when I was everything.

This week's prompt at Big Tent Poetry was to write a haibun. So I did. It was an interesting exercise, but the form felt artificial to me; I wasn't sure I had used it well. So I kept revising, and wound up with a poem which has a more familiar shape. I think I like the verse version better, but I'm sharing both versions of the poem here in case anyone's interested in how they differ. (To read the haibun version, and a bit more commentary on the poem, go beneath the extended-entry tag...)



You push me away and reach for the bottle instead. Once again I'm walking unfamiliar terrain, turf shifting beneath my feet. If I reached inside this patch of earth, what fresh sorrows would well up, and from what hidden source? Already my body is shrinking. But then you settle into the crook of my arm. One hand snakes across my chest to seize the plush belt of my yellow bathrobe; the other splays across the warm plastic cylinder. Your lashes drift down. Your restless legs grow still.

in my dollhouse
the table always ready
the guests never come

The subject matter of the poem is true to life: Drew has weaned himself. I would have been happy to keep nursing first thing in the morning and last thing before bed, but he had other ideas. The shift is bittersweet. On the one hand, I'm proud of him for taking the leap; I love watching him learn to curl his fingers around the bottle, and I relish the freedom of knowing that every now and then I can stay in bed and let his dad give him a bottle when he wakes.

And on the proverbial other hand, now that the days of breastfeeding are over, I'm already nostalgic for the experience and the sensation and the closeness. Parenthood: always new adventures, always letting go.

Here's a link to the Come One, Come All post at Big Tent Poetry so you can see what others did in response to this prompt. On a semi-related note: TypePad no longer seems to support the embedded mp3 player I've been using for the last few years. I'm trying a new embedded mp3 format (the one built in to the new TypePad interface), but if you can't see the embedded mp3 player at the top of this post, you can download the file below as usual.