Panic is in the details. I've lost all sense in
the thought of Rice Bubbles, toilet training
and squinting at the Panadol bottle at 2am.
Never mind that I am shaping a person,
about that fact my conceit, pomposity and
indignation grow in old age.
Like nostril hairs and earlobes, these small things
threaten storm clouds over the overtired.
When you ask the matter of it, I recalibrate my
words five times until certainly they beat me
speechless and you frustrated to sleep. I want to say:
'I am terrified by sandwiches and getting to daycare
on time and remembering to brush his teeth.'
What I mean is: 'I am frightened of being his mother.'
What I say is: 'μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος'
then I can't remember how to use my lungs.
This dissonance, the break between your concern
and my nonsense or silence of reply. While it
might be a very ordinary form of madness now,
if you pull it you had better not be bluffing.
I've taken too many swallows to find my throat;
the room has flattened into dumb sleep.
I will wake up into a parent again and wonder
why the question found me mute with tears.
I don't think that's the asking. I think
it's the breath I've lost trying to answer.
Today's poem is based on suggestions from six people:
@eglantinescake: "It might be a very ordinary form of madness" (Kenneth Gross, Puppet: An Essay on Uncannay Life)
@facelikethunder: "μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος" (which translates as "Rage -- Goddess, sing, the rage of Peleus' son Achilles" - Homer, The Iliad)
@lalscotton: "Pomposity and indignation grow in old age, like nostril hairs and earlobes" (Stephen Fry, The Fry Chronicles)
@attentive: "Certainly they beat me" (Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot)
@timsterne: "Now, if you pull it you had better not be bluffing" (Mark Brandon Read, Chopper 4)
@matchtrick: "I don't think that's the asking" (Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go)
Luka comes home to me today after over a week staying with his grandparents. It's possible I'm a little bit apprehensive at plunging back into parenthood again.