Each chunk we bite from life is a prayer. Our treasure chest homes,
our love-magnet pets, each meal
we grudgingly make and casually take.
Prayers to life
let us flourish let us live
let us stay leave us be let us stay leave us be.
Utterances we muster as we swallow, spurred by a rush,
gratitude and fear. Vehement pleas
may we preserve what luck we have.
Babies are prayers. Mothering is prayer.
Each tasting kiss, each chattering
diaper change, each worn red sandal putting on pulling off,
each rambling invented story, each whispered
convincing promise. The cradles
we make of our voices, rocking, rocking
may this remain just so may we all be here may we
do this again and again and again tomorrow and for
Each rolling, belly to belly nursing, a recitation.
Her milky new breath, when it collides
with mine, a sanctuary
between our mouths.
Our hands, as they flutter together
and apart. Our wondering fingers together
and apart uttering.
From the instant my doctor said, "Yes, finally
you are pregnant" my hands
grafted themselves to my slow, anxious belly,
how my hands remained steadfastly there while my baby cracked through me,
how my hands shifted to her setting head
may we be safe may we be safe may we be safe
may we be invulnerable.
The back of the head faces outside: strategic armour.
The palm inside: devoted sentry.
Poised between the precious and the dangerous - between her head
and the table corner, her shoulders
and the stair she faces down, her eyes
and a violent sight.
I make of my hands - infinite, furious,
Those mothers, their babies,
I know now what I was afraid of
trying to decide if we should have a child
what the ambivalence and fear warned
what those mothers knew
those mothers forced to stand, collapsing
in long terrified lines.
My baby knows what their babies knew,
babies held in faltering arms, shielded
by motherís unyielding hand.
What is lighter than the motherís hand
What is heavier than the motherís exhausted arms
What is heavier than the baby urgent with need
The weight of your child.
The excessive, faultless pull of gravity, a downward
tug I never want to know; after the terrible trains, the father
gone, the baby in her arms for
And then in the gun point crush
the mother whispers, put your head on my shoulder.
Her hand cups the back of the her babyís head,
her wrist at the nape of her neck, cradling.
Crushed in the chamber,
she draws the head inward,
interweaves shoulder chin cheek
tucks her nose into her babyís neck.
She inhales the tart,
moist scent that secrets there.
Her inhalation, a recitation. The rescuing breath,
held in her mouth.
Did she hold it deeply,
safely in her striving lungs.
Did he slowly exhale
close to her babies mouth
In the terror of that leakless room,
tugging each other in the gas,
did she make a sudden choice, or
no choice. Instantaneous.
those mothers, their babies,
extracted from the pile.
The motherís stiff, angled fingers
driven through her babyís
hard soft skull,
The last protection,
not to suffer longer, not to be orphaned for an instant,
What those mothers suddenly knew
what they did. The fingers
loud and silent in their last plea. The handís unbearable
What they were so afraid of.
What we are so afraid of .
The last prayer
The last mothering.