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The Speed of Light

spped-of-light

The clock is a tyrant who will stay his hand for no one,
not even you, whose smile should stop time
as it stops this heart of mine.

Each day flies faster than the last,
mornings blur too soon to evening,
every minute closer to the day you take your leaving.

I wish for moments that last a thousand years.

-Lo, mourning the impending end of maternity leave.

Post Partum

mood: quiet | drinking: water

pumpkin2

With the exception of one poem called “Good Dog,” written shortly after LeeLoo’s death, all the poems I’ve written in the last nine months have been all about this change, this life, brewing inside of me.

That includes a series of 13 poems titled after fruits and vegetables, starting with “Kidney Bean” and ending with “Pumpkin”… the idea being that the size of the titular piece of produce corresponded with the size of the little one in my womb.

Someday I’ll publish all 13, but I thought now was a good time to post the final poem in the series. So here you are…

Pumpkin

early
I bare my toes to the ocean
and wait for the waves,
salty and cool against my skin
steady and measured inside my womb.

active
There are women
who proudly tell stories
of profanity in the labor room,
of squeezing fingers to pulp, of
screaming fault lines
at the nearest person
possessed of a penis,
of blood, chaos and drama.

But in Room 203 I am falling in love,
knowing we have never been together
quite like we are on this night.

push
They tell me to push just one more time
and I find his eyes and bear down
quivering with effort.

“That’s great, now do it again,”
they say, and I do and I do and I do
and I think “This will never end.”

But it does, in a rush, and you slide
purple and wailing from that world
to this.

He sees you before I do, and turns to me,
eyes welling with the wonder
of having finally met
the person you made
and finding her utterly perfect.

post partum
I am halfway to the drugstore
when I remember
you are no longer with me.

After 10 months of cohabitation
the shock of your absence
is devastating.

A song comes on the radio
that has nothing to do with us

but I weep nonetheless
for the sorrow of solitude
and the joy of delivery.

***

(written September 1st and 2nd, technically weeks 40 & 41)

-Lo, with a little less writing time on my hands.

Altered State

mood: accomplished | drinking: yes

altered_state

At long last, a new cinépoem!

This isn’t the big one I’ve been talking about all year. That one, “The Tyranny of the Mirror” is still in the editing process and will make its debut in a month or two.

But this one is pretty special. Earlier this year, when I was about 5 months pregnant, Boy and I took a big trip to Europe. We called it The Babymoon Tour, because we knew it would be our last chance to go on such a big adventure, just the two of us, for quite awhile.

One of the stops on our Babymoon was Prague, and since we had packed a video camera, we decided to take full advantage of being in such a lovely city and record a cinépoem.

What followed is “Altered State”, a sweet and simple little cinépoem. I wrote the poem about coming to terms with the changes that having a child will bring, but it could really be about anything… just depends on where you’re at when you read it. Or, in this case, see it.

I’ve had a big long list of things I wanted to finish before the Bean arrives, and this was at the top of the list. I guess my nesting instinct also takes the form of making cinépoems.

So go, take a look. You can watch “Altered State” on the cinépoems page or on YouTube.

Just keep an eye out for the peacock.

-Lo, who’s quite pleased with herself.

Making Room

mood: excited | drinking: nope

rocker

I’m minutes from leaving on a jet plane, headed off to Illinois for a baby shower my Mom is throwing for me.

But before I go, here’s a little update… the latest poem in what’s becoming known as the “Fruits & Veggies series” because the title of each poem corresponds to the fruit or vegetable that most resembles the size of the little one.

This week’s veggie is an English hot-house cucumber, according to BabyCenter.com. I have no idea what an English hot-house cucumber looks like, actually, but I’m assuming it’s on the large side, as cucumbers go.

Last week’s vegetable was a Rutabaga, and here it is, in sevenling form:

Rutabaga

We are busy making room for you, redefining
our borders and relegating sharp objects
to the safety of high shelves and dark corners.

But it seems there is not enough room for my spleen,
and my gall bladder also has been displaced, small
squishy organs summarily relocated

by the push of my ever-expanding heart.

*****

-Lo, who has a boarding call.

Sugar and Spice

mood: ebullient | drinking: water
bean_shoes1

…and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of. So they say.

(Although I remember being a little girl and I wasn’t always sugar and spice. There might have been a puppy dog tail or two thrown into my recipe.)

From the moment that plus sign appears, you find yourself wondering who this new creature will turn out to be. And “Boy or Girl?” is right up there at the top of the list of questions. It’s certainly the thing people most want to know, right after they ask you when you’re due.

Finally, we have an answer. The Bean is a bean-ette.

I made the ultrasound technician check, twice, to be sure there were no beans and frank hiding anywhere. She was quite positive in her diagnosis, though. “No suprises,” she assured me, “It’s definitely a girl.”

This whole time, I’ve tried very hard not to want a girl over a boy. Because what if Bean turned out to be sporting a penis, and then later he found out that his mum actually wanted him to be a girl? That would suck.

But let’s be honest. I’ve been stashing away girl stuff for a very long time now, just in case. I really, really wanted to have a daughter. bean_dress

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Bean will turn out to be the kind of girl who will even be interested in the trinkets and goodies I’ve been saving for her. But maybe, someday is good enough to go on for now.

The day before the big reveal, I wrote this poem to capture how I felt before I knew the answer to the gender question. I hope someday Bean will like this, too…

Heirloom Tomato
(week 19)

Wishful thinking will not change
the tint of your eyes
the grain of your hair
the Xs or Ys of chromosomes.

You already are whoever
you are going to be.

In a windowless room at the office
I lay on the graying carpet
and let a woman string a ring
on a strand of my hair.
She held it motionless
above the mound of belly
where you swim.

If it swung in a circle,
you would be a girl.
Perpendicular, a boy.

In my impatience to meet you
I have imagined a whole wardrobe
of bright cotton dresses. I have drawn up lists
of names. (The page for girls is longer.)

Your aunt has entered birth dates
into gender calculators,
all of which predicted
you will be my daughter.

But today the ring swung
in a line, not a circle.

I want you to know, now,
before we inspect you
with sound waves,
that you are loved
exactly as you are.

-Lo, amazed.

Blueberry, Kumquat, Lime, Apple

mood: impatient | drinking: vitamin water

bump

I’ve become quite familiar, over the last weeks, with the use of fruit as a metaphor for the ever-changing size of a fetus.

First it was beans, limas and lentils. Then we moved on to fruit. Now, at 15+ weeks, the being we’re currently calling “Bean” (because that’s what she looked like when we first saw her) is now the size of an apple. My bump, on the other hand, is the size of a large cantaloupe. Mmmmmmm. Cantaloupe.

In the weeks when Boy and I were keeping the secret to ourselves and a small group of friends, I wrote a few poems that I also kept secret.

But now that the cat’s out, I can share a couple with you…

Proof of life
In the space
where they say
a heart will grow

a tiny light flicks on
off-on-off-on
faster than
hummingbird
wings.

It’s been only me
in this skin
for so long.

Now suddenly,
strange alchemy.

I am just learning
to share.

(Written on January 20, after our first ultrasound.)

Week 10
On the way to the doctor’s office
I nearly convince myself you are dead.
(I like to prepare for the worst.)

Not for the last time,
you prove me wrong

because when we see you
on the Toshiba screen
you are standing on your head
and dancing.

You wave webbed fingers
and thrash your stumpy legs
to the thrum of your wee heart
as if you haven’t a care.

And you don’t.

The worry
is all mine.

I eat walnuts by the handful now
just to make you smart.
I switch to decaf so you’ll grow tall.

I lie awake obsessing
about unpronounceable genetic anomalies
that could ruin you.

I haven’t even gotten to the part yet
where you get a driver’s license
and a boyfriend in a rock band.

*****

-Lo, who has been told this is only the beginning.

Excessive petals, excessive seed

mood: stuck | drinking: lemonade

dandelion

I’m borrowing a poem from Elizabeth Bradfield today, just for you…

Nonnative Invasive

Lupine, gentian, chocolate lily. We’ve been
naming, been exclaiming, been looking up
in our guidebooks the alpine flowers.
But
look at these! Amy says, pointing
to bright dandelion at trail edge, heads

like airplane aisle lights. How pretty! Don’t you
want to pick bunches and bunches and bring them
home? A swell of roadside by my house
yellows with them now, excessive petals
turning to excessive seed. Curbside,

I’m glad they are not lawn. But they’ll invade
this meadow, push out with brash cheer
forget-me-not and wooly lousewort. I want
to reconcile them, but I can’t. I hiked up
to see anemones and saxifrage, to get away

from landscaping and what landscaping
weeds out. I think of how they arrived, seeds
embedded in boot-dirt, stuck to our socks and the fur
of our dogs.
Praise their tenacity, says Amy.
But she’s just arguing a point. None of us

is glad they’ve hitched a ride up here.
None of us knows how to accept
the way love changes what it’s drawn to
—smudging self across what’s seen—
when what thrilled us first was difference.

-Lo, pondering the inevitability of smudges.

Tick Tick Ticking Away

mood: tired | drinking: water

time

Daylight Savings

The countdowns start
every day
with no prior warning.

You leave three minutes early
and take the carpool lane
but the sun will still set tonight
at exactly 5:19.

Your good old days
are over before you know
they’ve begun.

You eat lunch at your desk
as a time-saving device
but your homemade ham sandwich
doesn’t alter one tick.

Your lover begins to be bored
of you before you’ve
even met.

You stay up late on weekends
to make the day last longer
and then sleep in on Sundays
while time keeps marching on.

You begin to die
the day you’re born,
so no matter how much
time you save

you will always
run out.

-Lo, listening to the tick.

About What Was Lost

mood: transparent | drinking: liquids

test

Positive

I take the test on Thursday night.

I already know what the answer will be
but I need more than intuition
and swollen ankles
to prove it.

I place the stick on the sink,
peel off my clothes.
The purple plus sign begins to form
before I can unbutton my jeans.

I avert my eyes and turn on the water.

I stay in the shower much longer than necessary
draw the razor up to my knee
shampoo my hair a second time.
The katoush of my heart is louder than plumbing.

I want to be delighted. I want to be ecstatic.
I want to be something other than terrified.

***

I watch him as I walk down the stairs—
he only has a few seconds of ignorance left.
It seems cruel not to warn him.

But I carry no words,
only a positive plus
on a plastic wand,
which I deliver with unsteady hands.

The seconds it takes him to get it
stretch on for a hundred years.
But then
he grins.

We walk in the dark with the dog to the store
and buy two more tests.

At midnight, we lay three purple plus signs
in a row on the table and stare
until one of us starts to giggle,
and then the other.

We are giddy. We are hysterical.
We can’t go to sleep.

***

The next Tuesday, I begin to bleed.

It takes three days of doctors
to confirm what I already know,

and more than a week
for my body to expel
the tiny ruby bits
of a person I had barely begun to believe in.

When I am finally empty,
we grieve in separate rooms.

*****

The statistics say that 20 percent of known pregnancies end in miscarriage in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and that more than 80 percent of these losses happen before 12 weeks.

I am a statistic now.

On Thursday, October 22nd, Boy and I found out we were pregnant. Our best guess put us at about 5-6 weeks along. On Tuesday, October 27, the day we got the keys to our new house, I began to miscarry. It took 8 days.

Just two weeks before that, one of my very best friends suffered a miscarriage when she was nearly 7 weeks pregnant. When it happened to her, I didn’t even know that I was pregnant, and of course had no inkling that I would undergo the same loss myself just days later.

I didn’t know how common miscarriage is, until it happened to me. For some reason, we tend to suffer the loss silently, perhaps out of some sense of shame that it was somehow our fault, or just the need to curl into ourselves during a confusing, frightening and painful time.

But what I have found as I have slowly begun to speak about what I lost, is that so many women around me have gone through the same loss. One woman told me she had seven miscarriages in the space of two years before ultimately carrying her baby to term. My own mother had two miscarriages before I was born.

As lonely as it feels when you’re in the middle of it, there are thousand and hundreds of thousands of women who bleed like you. Who know exactly how you feel. I wish their voices were louder.

I usually keep the most personal aspects of my life off the internet, but in this I do not want to stay silent.

It has taken me some time to process what has happened–I had barely begun to even believe I was pregnant at all. I know I’m not finished dealing with the repercussions of this loss. Neither is Boy. And we will deal with it together, privately.

But in the meantime I want to put this poem out there, so that somewhere, someone knows she is not the only one.

-Lo, breaking the silence.