Night midwives glide, smooth sharks
along carpeted corridors. Soft light
overheats darkness. Someone’s baby
is always grinting. Nurses are acrobats,
swift with infants, flip them from
hand to hand like a child’s clapping game.
Rhythm of newborns is in their fingers where
I am just transcribing spots from a leopard.
A book about babies teaches as much about
that tiny neck as a cookbook knows
what sponge cake tastes like. A child
is not a diagram of reflexes.
Everyone trampolines in at afternoon.
It is my night time, I have been awake for days.
My grandmother has six children, advises
everything inadvisable. Her technology of
colic and bland food has been superseded.
We don’t give spoonfuls of water any more.
Midwives relieve me of your squalling
head. I am as glad and guilty as Catholic steak
on Good Friday. Soon they bring back your limbs
that I made, your furry arms I will fill out,
milk the hours of dark feeding but right now
all I can think is what have I done.
I sing you what my mother sang, I call up
Alexander Beetle and Gone the Rainbow.
Still spotted with my blood like a ladybeetle
you are so, so new. No one is more amazed.
In the shower alone, I think you have disappeared.
In the shower alone, I think I have disappeared.
Today's poem is based on suggestions from six peeps:
- @awurster: ” sponge cakes AND trampolines”
- @msmaddiep: “Sharks? Always sharks.”
- @ernmalleyscat: “shower thoughts”
- @realnixwilliams: “how about trampolines and handclapping rhymes? (heard kids doing these today - so slightly different to the ones i learnt!)”
- @twitofalili: “Alexander beetle! And eating fish on Good Friday cause you're staying with Catholics.”
- @spikelynch: “how about nanatechnology (things that grandmothers excel in)”
The first night with a newborn is a surreal experience. I didn't even know how to pick him up, let alone feed him or change his nappy. How do I know if he's hungry? Should I wake him up? Every single movement was foreign to me, and I'd been awake for around 36 hours, and had an epidural, and everything was so, so strange. I knew I was supposed to love this new creature, but as the poem says, all I could think was 'what have I done'.
I did love him eventually, you'll be pleased to hear.
The photo is of Luka about 2 hrs after he was born, wrapped up next to me when we were alone in the delivery room.