Prayers for Thanksgiving from Reb Zalman
Sfat Emet on lighting candles and finding God within

Another mother poem: One Year / Mother Psalm 9





A psalm of ascent


When the doctor brought you
through my narrow places
I was as in a dream: tucked behind
my closed eyes, chanting silently
we are opening up in sweet surrender.
The night before we left the hospital
I wept: didn’t they know
I had no idea what to do with you?
Even newborn-sized clothes
loomed around you, vast and ill-fitting.
I couldn’t convince you to latch
without a nurse there to reposition.
But we got into the car, the old world
made terrifying and new, and
in time I learned your language.
I had my own narrow places ahead,
the valley of the postpartum shadow.
Nights when I would hand you over,
mutely grateful to anyone willing
to rock you down, to suffer your cries...
But those who sow in tears
will reap in joy, and you
are the joy I never knew I didn’t have.
I have paced these long hours
bearing a baby on my shoulder
and now I am home in rejoicing,
bearing you, my own harvest.

This is my 52nd mother poem. Over the last year, I've written roughly one poem each week -- some weeks, no poems; some weeks, two; but on the whole, it's been a steady pace of one weekly poem most of the time since Drew was born -- and now that first year is done.

Those of you who are here for the mother poems have said some wonderful things (thank you so much for reading them and for commenting!) and I may well continue writing them -- though I suspect I will take a few weeks' break, and spend the remainder of this year on other writing-work (like the three final papers and the poetry project I have due to various rabbinic school teachers...and also, beginning to go back over these mother poems, and sharing them with friends who can help me get perspective on the manuscript as a whole.)

This poem is one of the subset of my mother poems which draws inspiration from the psalms. Specifically, I was thinking of Psalm 126 when I wrote this. The opening lines are a reference to "When Adonai brought back those who returned to Zion, we were like dreamers." And "Those who sow in tears / will reap in joy" is a direct quote from the psalm. And the final lines are a reference to the final lines of that brief psalm, which read, "Though he goes on his way weeping, bearing seed, he shall return home in joy, bearing his sheaves."

This poem wasn't written in response to a Big Tent Poetry prompt, but here's a link to this week's Come One, Come All post so you can see what others wrote.