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.

The Elusive Muse

mood: antsy | drinking: h2o

rust_bird

Every writing workshop I’ve ever attended encourages you to carve out a hole in your schedule: an hour in the morning, a chunk of the afternoon, and sit there with your pen and paper, your keyboard and screen, and wait patiently for the muse to show up.

Sometimes, they say, just sitting there writing nonsense, pouring out your stream-of-consciousness rambling, will suddenly turn into something productive. Something that you’ll read later and say, “By Jove, there’s something good going on here!”

And it’s true. It works. If you can force yourself to find the time and then sit there, quietly.

But there’s another tactic that I’ve been considering, since my quiet times with blank pages have been few and far between of late. I’ve decided that perhaps you need to get off your ass, go out there, hunt down your inspiration, drag it home by the tail and make it your bitch.

Sally forth, armed with pocket-sized paper pad and tell yourself, “Today I WILL find something to write about. I will inspect every nook and cranny of my day until a whisp of an idea creeps from the corners and makes itself known.”

Perhaps I’ve decided to go on the prowl because it sounds easier, somehow, than adding another task to my to-do list that says, “Sit still.”

Perhaps I’m in denial of my need to stop moving, stop doing, just stop for a second.

Perhaps.

I’ve been so busy, for the past several years. Poetry book, cinepoems, film festivals, new job, new house, and, of course, the ever-expanding bun in my oven.

But even if I weren’t busy with all my various and sundry extracurriculars, I’d likely find a way to fill time.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how all these time-saving technological wonders have spawned such a wealth of ways to waste time.

Facebook, while a great way to connect with long-lost friends, enemies, and people you barely remember, is also an incredible time-suck. Even if you don’t subscribe to the Farmville/Mafia Wars/Vampire Attack drivel.

It’s like the more we invent to make our lives easier, the more we remove ourselves from the actual living part of life.

We had friends over recently and at one point in the evening I looked up from my laptop to see at least four of us with heads bent over computers, and the other two had their iPhones out. Yeah. We’re a fun bunch.

I’m not against the interwebs, obviously. And I’m not against smart phones, either, although my own phone remains a small, sad little phone-only device. (I don’t want to be constantly connected.)

I just think that unless we consciously unplug, disconnect and shut down for awhile, we might miss out on something truly spectacular that’s happening off-screen.

I’ve been unhappy with my poems lately. They have slowed to a trickle, and all I seem to be able to write about is the unknown little person inside me who is slowly but surely rearranging my life.

I suppose it’s not really a bad thing that my poems have such a singular subject–after all, this is a pretty monumental thing that’s happening inside me. But there are other things happening outside of me that I’d like to pin down on paper.

So perhaps I’ve just talked myself in a great big circle back to the beginning of this post. Perhaps I’ve just convinced myself to sit down and shut up and see what the muse brings to the table.

Or maybe I can do both… Maybe I can be aggressive and hunt my inspiration down one day, then sit passively by and listen to the ether the next day.

It’s worth a shot. Let’s try it and see what happens.

-Lo, who just likes to say that she’ll make something her bitch.

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.

The Great Grinchy Giveaway

mood: decidedly un-Grinchy | drinking: stuff

xmas_books

People keep telling me it’s the most wonderful time of the year. I don’t necessarily believe it… there are lots of other times of the year that are arguably more wonderful than this.

But I’m going to shrug off my inner Grinch and just go for the holiday cheer this year. Strap on your helmet.

This year, for the first time ever, I’m instituting what may very well become a yearly tradition: The Great Grinchy Giveaway. I’ll need your help though.

Here’s how it will work:
The first 5 people to respond in the comments (here on She Says, NOT on Facebook) will receive a shiny free poetry book complete with an autograph so you can sell it for 20 bucks when I’m rich and infamous.

You get to choose which book: Shedding the Angel Skin or The Secrets of Falling. And I’ll throw in some lovely postcards for you, as well. (You can even request which postcards you’d like to receive.)

All you have to do is comment down below and tell me two things:
1. Who’s your favorite poet ever: Tennyson? Bukowski? Frost? Eliot? Plath?
2. Which book would you like to get for free?

In order to comment, you’ll have to become a registered “user” of this site, by means of the little link which is either over there on the right under “Login” or down below this post under “Leave a Reply.” That way I’ll have your email address and I can congratulate you on your winnings and get your snail mail address. It only takes two seconds. Or maybe five.

This is a great time for all you secret lurkers to come out from under the bushes and wave hello. I know you’re out there. Don’t be shy.

So, how about it? Want a free book? (If you’ve already got a copy, you could always gift it to a friend. I’m all about helping you out with your holiday shopping list.)

Ready? Set? Comment!

-Lo, getting her wrapping paper ready.

{UPDATE 12/10/09:} I’ve got my 5 winners, even though several of you had trouble getting WordPress to let you add a comment here! I apologize for your troubles. Hopefully that pesky problem is now fixed, thanks to my trusty webmaster. But those of you who were determined and sent me emails have been added to the list of winners. So: Anna, Charmaine, Jennifer, Maria & Amy can all expect to receive shiny packages in the mail very soon. And Eric, you’re getting one too, just because you’re special. Thanks, everyone!

-Lo, off to the P.O.