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Postpartum, Week One

A poem about motherhood.

Even on my fourth child, the tsunami of the postpartum period can sweep one away. It takes time to bond and heal after a birth. My newborn son occupies a space at once huge and tiny, in both the physical and psychological senses, in our family dynamic.

Welcoming a new baby is a joyous but difficult time. And even when you expect the hardships, they can crush you. My toddler is breaking my heart in the most predictable ways as he grapples with the addition of a little brother.

This poem is an effort to cope with some of these feelings. I hope you enjoy it.

Postpartum, Week One
 
Week one.
We walk down to the school,
you, our sweet boy, and me,
pushing the new stroller
and new baby, too,
still a passive object
to be trundled
and bundled about,
delivered in delivery,
received in receiving blankets.
 
Baby is a closed red face
lost in the carriage,
overloaded with blankets
that’ll do no good
when the rain starts.
Our boy’s cheeks
are still the color of
watermelon flesh fresh
from a crying jag.
I am sore
and you are shell-shocked,
and we both look more like our mothers
than a week ago
or ever before.
 
It feels like a fight
no one initiated.
It rumbles under the surface,
this postpartum subduction,
and we walk
at the toddler’s pace
in lieu of evacuation.
 
So we walk
encumbered with help
from the new older brother
pushing the wheels over
his own clapping feet,
and I feel the shake of weeping
shivering again
in the bolts of my shoulders.
I’m trying not to rattle apart
and you’re trying not to watch.
 
At the portico of the school,
gated and chained where once
the kids would rivulet in,
I rest on the steps
and you take the older one up
to get away from my magma.
 
Jolly voiced, you tease out squeals
from our boy née baby.
Happiness is a rubber ball
darting pell-mell over broken bricks.
I lean against dissolving marble
under planters of abandoned pansies
and nod with the feinting lion heads
of white irises,
fierce and tissue thin,
like us.
 
The volcanic heat in my throat
at the sound of our boy
would vaporize us all.
What have we done to him?
His eyes bore at new depths.
His blinks slow.
But it happens to us all.
 
He is so small.
I breathe in the corn syrup flower garden
and listen to your father-son sounds.
This is happiness.
Is this not bliss?
His clap-slapping plastic shoes
reverberate in the stone arches.
It is a proclamation of innocence,
his lonely play sounds,
a primary-colored
gumball happiness
candy-coating something else
for which he has no word.
 
I watch the baby sleep
or skin-sense the world,
close-eyed, open-eared,
hush-gasping at the air
as he does on our walks.
Betrayal?
Is the word abandonment?
Oh, our sweetest boy.
It is week one
of a considerably more crowded life.
 
I inspect the petaled edge
of a cloud bank moving in
sun-sharpened and dark overhead.
It is the size of my ash cloud.
 
The eruption of a volcano
is a necessary part of world building.
It happens on other planets,
not only ours.
Not only ours, my loves.
It happens to us all.
 
I watch you throw the ball again,
your voice affecting glee
incongruent with your posture.
Your hands
become your mother’s hands,
loose muscled,
rubbing at your mother’s fatigue
and my eyes fill
with my mother’s tears.

This poem will be among a future collection of poems. If you enjoyed it, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing one of my new collections in paperback or Kindle format. You can find them all on my Amazon author page.

Thank you, always, for reading.

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