In the last weeks she would struggle with the vertical,
a catalogue of twinges I could neither appreciate
nor salve. She railed against pregnancy dogma:
'This slab of rules, it's to make me think I'm a prisoner,
frantic with corporeality: one bite of soft cheese
and one unpasteurised spoonful away from child abuse.'
The suggestion of heat-treated sugar saw me dissolved.
'I will get you honey,' I concluded against her eyebrows.
When she held him first, I burst with sweetness.
A calm baby and almond-eyed; a stately, plump buck.
'Mulligan' came from the stairhead of her ancestral home,
carved into wood like a suggestion. We placed it
in his middle, an extra identity in case of unseen futures.
This is a city of beggars and thieves and faces gone dark for
dark business: perhaps he would have need of an alias.
The second afternoon caught her wet-faced by surprise.
Uneased, I forced assurance that no single, individual moment
is in and of itself unendurable. Her anger snapped electric and shone
out like the dog star stood beneath the Judgement Seats.
And raged: 'Tell me that when you've been in fucking transition,
when your nipples have been ripped through a cheese grater.'
The tiny tyrant screeched instead against unstoppable historia:
he condemned the pyramids on principle,
damned the Incan temples and ripped forth his fury
at the unsought blinding chill of his and every birth.
The baby would not stop, would not stop screaming.
On the third sunrise he had been quiet for seven hours;
those monsters had gone back to their lairs.
In his unconscious slack-limbed state I peeled,
cleaned and re-wrapped him into a baby burrito.
His chest fluttered like the small brown sparrow
flies down again to snap up screen-stuck midges.
'He is still alive,' I remember whispering.
She kept her back and shoulders to us
and murmured back: 'Am I?'
Today's poem is based on suggestions from eleven (eek) people:
@_camer0n: "I will get you honey" (Stanley and Jan Berenstain, The Big Honey Hunt)
@scooter_lass: "this is a city of beggars and thieves" (Terry Pratchett, Stuff)
@_boobook_: "The small brown sparrow flies down again" (Anna Branford, Violet Mackerel's Natural Habitat)
@robcorr: "Dark for dark business" (JRR Tolkein, The Hobbit)
@facelikethunder: "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead" (James Joyce, Ulysses)
@twitofalili: "The dog star stood beneath the Judgement Seats and raged" (Diana Wynne Jones, Dogsbody)
@anti_kate: "That no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable" (David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest)
@Hannibal_: "it's to make me think I'm a prisoner, frantic with corporeality" (Samuel Beckett, Texts for Nothing #6)
@attentive: "those monsters had gone back to their lairs in his unconscious" (Guiseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard)
@ernmalleyscat: "He is still alive, I remember whispering" (Patti Smith, Just Kids)
@timsterne: "he condemned the pyramids on principle" (Peter Conrad, Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life)
Disclaimer: I got up at 5:30am so I could write this in the hour before my 3 year old usually wakes up, except today he decided to wake up then too. So instead it was written over the next three hours, in between Rice Bubbles, poo, and him yelling "I'VE GOT A GIANT VACUUM CLEANER" over and over and over. So I might not have had the same levels of concentration as usual (or, you know, any level).
Eleven suggestions! Jaysus. Might have to cut things off at the first 8 from now on if I intend to live out the month.