NaPoWriMo, Day 20

On the night you were born, after I was stitched up,
after we finally met,
after all the relatives were gone,
I tried to sleep.

But instead I began gushing blood,
an unstoppable flow, it seemed,
but I really only felt the warmth of it.
I didn’t see it. I wouldn’t have wanted to, anyway,
but the memory is hazy, you see.
To this day I’m not sure what meds they gave me for pain, to stop the bleeding.
I have vague impressions of medical staff running back and forth, someone saying “go wake up a doctor.”

It was more terrifying for your dad than me, him not having the benefit of mind-clouding pain pills.

All I knew was

it hurts,

despite the medicine.

The nurses came back again and again,
checking the pads they put under women after c-sections,
after delivery.
They pressed on my tender, recently sliced belly to push out blood clots,
and I cried like a little child,

it hurts.

In my confusion I understood only as much as a little child.

Recently I’ve been reading a memoir about brushes with death.
The author, too, had a c-section, and afterwards,
profuse bleeding. blood everywhere.
Medical personnel dashing around in panic.
Later, she read about maternal mortality statistics, how the US and the UK are high up in the rankings for maternal deaths,
and the number one cause of death?

Postpartum hemorrhage.

So that gave me something to think about.

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How I talk to myself sometimes

You just put the socks in the underwear drawer with no idea you were wrong until you shut it.

Hit your finger so hard as you put away tshirts, paying no attention,

knocking over glasses and banging shins into furniture, feet tortured on far-flung legos.

You wake up and meditate every other day and talk a big game,

but on those alternate days you wake up to screams for attention

and you can’t settle, can’t settle at all,

because your head is way too full.

Your finger hurts so much you instinctively bring it to your mouth to soothe it.

That’s what you get,

moving too fast you can’t see what’s right in front of your eyes, you miss so much,

thinking of anything but what you’re doing.

That’s what you get.

All this stuff about self-compassion but that’s not the world we were raised in.

You will get only what you deserve

if you can’t pay attention.

You’ll keep fucking up.

That’s what you get.

NaPoWriMo, Day 19

Based on today’s prompt.

Day 19 Poem:

Softly slender branches,
green leaves and pink blossoms,
clouds burnt with light.
Small patches of springtime.
A column holds up a small section of roof.
The stroller is in the path.
Stalks of unbloomed irises and
alread-dense overgrowth.
I look through rainbow glass
at the canopy we put up
as a portal to the bonfire,
a night of birthday magic.

So this is what it’s like

I can’t say I expected this love to hurt so much.

It’s true, what they say about hearts. Mine is not a thing that beats in my chest, but is actually two small people who run around, figuring out the world and trying to take terrible chances with themselves.

It’s dangerous to let something as delicate as your heart roam free.

It is so easily damaged, its fragile tissues exposed,

that it really ought to stay with me, attached, always.

After all, how can I live without my heart?

NaPoWriMo, Day 18

Prompt: use a source poem, start at the last line, write a response to that line as the first line of a new poem. Work your way up through the source poem. I used “Out Beyond Ideas,” by Rumi.

Day 18 Poem:

The way we speak to each other sometimes,

using words that make each other “other”-

the world has all it needs of that, and more.

If we choose to, we can be happy and free at any time.

Let’s meet under our favorite tree tonight, after the sun goes down,

and speak of all the ways in which we agree. In which we love each other.

NaPoWriMo, Day 17

Day 17 Poem:

We found your mementoes in
your dresser drawer.
A love note from a boyfriend,
and a picture of your first love-

the one your thoughts always went back to,
when you were crying your eyes out as a teenage girl,
and, later, trying to track him down,
though you were pregnant with someone else’s child.

You gave back the diamond,
but gave the pearls to my mother.

How thankful I am that you never knew they weren’t real.

NaPoWriMo, Day 16

no prompt.

Day 16 Poem:

When I first settle onto my mat, I’m
restless. Before I can surrender I need to humor my obsessive-compulsive thoughts for a few minutes before they knock it off.

The teacher entreats us to be mindful and,
though in other classes I haven’t succeeded, here, I do.
It’s a pretty good class.

By the time we get through warmup sequences, I am
completely focused on understanding instructions,
doing poses as well as my unpracticed, still post-partum-ish body can manage,
and on not looking like a dumbass in front of a bunch of people who seem like they’ve
done a lot of yoga.

An hour is a good amount of time for letting go. Stretching feels indescribably good, my muscles used to running, pounding pavements and treadmills, and terribly relieved to be handled gently. They repay me with strength I didn’t know I had, holding me up in interminable planks that would normally have me mentally swearing at the instructor, but now am happy to bear.

This sweet respite has a lot to teach me, about my strength, my patience, and, most of all, gratitude. As each class nears its end I’m overwhelmed by the emotional release that happens when my body has worked its hardest-

and when, at last, it has achieved a peaceful (if temporary) coexistence with my mind, which is quiet. I become grateful for my body that I was just frustrated with, for my family, and for everything which I am normally moving too fast to love enough.

Instead of literally trying to outrun my thoughts, once a week, I can make peace with them.