It's just poetry, it won't bite

Contributor Series 11: On Birthdays, Between

06.28.12 Posted in words to linger on by

Contributor Series 11: On Birthdays
By Dee Thompson

There were no baby monitors a half century ago when I appeared, Mother
reminded me.
I had not considered it, but it’s true of course.
Mothers simply listened. Knew the cries,
the fretful wail, the full-throated scream, the whimper.
Birth was more clinical. Babies were not so rare and precious, just boom-dropped, one
among many.

Every new life requires sacrifice, tears, smiles, sobs.  
Life seasons blur by unnoticed until one day, getting out of the chair causes small noises
     and you realize, startled, they come from you. Only then, 
     do you look back, amidst the whisper of leaves.

In soft spring, new lives spring forth, trembling, bleating, dancing outside in moonlight. 
Summer heat scorches and sears, strengthening the will, the southern, sweaty slog – job, party,
stroller, dogs, iced coffees, mommy blogs, school supplies.
Suddenly September slides in, crackling green and gold lights appear, chills sweeping past the SUV,
     suddenly life is autumn. 
     Suddenly it’s science-fiction time, the calendar a digital diode,
          and all your baby photos are black and white, you notice.

And one day your baby is talking about colleges. 
The dog mostly sleeps in sun shafts, on the dusty floor.
You no longer care about high heels, or trendy jewelry, or the new restaurant.
You use your school yearbooks to kill bugs or prop up a table.

One night, you sleep more than 8 hours, and getting out of bed requires a plan.

Instead of plowing ahead to the horizon, you are there, straddling both worlds. You unfurl glimpses of 
     youth, with its aches of love, new flings, drama, yet – 
you glimpse the winter.
You see yourself a bent crone, sliding off the bed,
   seeking a simple fire, a soft voice, a book. You shake it off, yet the chill?
      The chill looms, more vivid than the summer sky,
      Brittle graydame on one side; vivid, supple greengirl fading.

Mother still monitors me, and for that I’m grateful. She hears the cries, and knows, even from the cell
phone, the meaning of each fretful wail, full-throated scream, or whimper
welling out of my autumn soul, 
echoing from both sides of the horizon.

Dee Thompson’s most recent poem to appear here was Dismantled (February 2012).

One Response to “Contributor Series 11: On Birthdays, Between”

  1. Dee, I enjoyed the poignant walk through birthdays with you!!

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