five hours of active labor six hard pushes

you are born

 

outside my body your little body

is learning to hold heat but not enough

off you go to the nursery

to warm under a lamp

alone in the peach-toned room

I touch my softened belly

 

I had been ample plush

stretched around the idea of

you

curled in water the color of straw

inventing yourself

I helped

 

now the universe tightens on itself

clamps down against bleeding a fist

clenched to the point of pain

 

when I hold you again

you latch on with such fury I laugh joy

pierces me small stars

flare and splinter in my breast

weeping gold milk

 

2005

The accompanying art is the creation of Zena Allen, one of the artists featured on mamasday.org where you can send the mamas in your life beautiful e-cards that celebrate the many ways we define family and experience mamahood. Mamas Day is a project of Strong Families, a national initiative led by Forward Together, a reproductive justice organization working at the intersections of race, gender, economic, and cultural identity to advance the well-being of women and families. I have the privilege this year of working with this extraordinary group of movement builders; you can learn more about our project here.