“It will be miraculous, very miraculous.” - Malika Oufkir
You roll through the world,
a tumbleweed of windy arms, hilly legs.
You are all mouth
until you arrive at the magazines.
Then you are only hands
As you drag them, one by one,
each as heavy as a suitcase,
out of the basket.
You rip, tear, crumble
until the carpet is a lawn of disembodied language
you put in your mouth
words already forming on your tongue.
Da Da you croon.
Ki Ki you chant to the cat.
Ah, you sigh deeply,
your first two teeth,
the ones on the bottom
flashing like new letters.
The Birth Mom
Her belly a hill with thunder inside.
In the early morning hours
she moves her hands over the half moon of it
so she won’t feel life growing there like a sunflower
she did not plant.
It kicks to her anyway,
a kind of song.
For an entire day she thinks she will keep him or her,
give the child a name.
It will be different this time.
She will not burn to ash with grieving.
The morning light lowers itself next to her on the bed,
but she turns her face to the wall
against the day,
wanting to keep everything inside for this moment,
as if she were a treasure box for a pearl,
locked and safe and without sorrow.
Song of Sleep
The small wind of my son’s breathing in my ear comforts me in the middle of the night. It is the sound of the sea through a shell held close. It is a kite tail flapping softly above a stretch of beach. Sometimes, when my son’s small nose is plugged up there is a wheezy echo like an old man snoring. My son always starts out in his own bed, the sound machine turned to ocean because our house is small and noise travels. But always at some point in the night he calls out my name and I go and pick up the limp starfish of his body and carry him to the island of our bed. At first in bed he clings to me, as if I’m a great rock in the tide, our faces so close that the breeze of his breath mixes with my own. I imagine our breathing is a small whirlpool of dreams trying to lull us back to sleep. Sometimes in his sleep my son says, “Hi Mommy,” and pats my back. Or he’ll call out or laugh or say something from a dream. I reposition myself to bear the weight of his arms, to protect my bad right shoulder. My husband may clear his throat, cough, ocean sounds will rise again and again in predictable waves from the other room, the rain beating against the mast of our house, the pearl moon lowering herself to catch a glimpse of us through the bedroom window. All of us sinking and rising, sinking and rising, sinking and rising into the deep waters of sleep and up again into the shallows of waking.
Micha stops to bend low to the wet ground, his small fingers dig into the muddy earth. And that’s when I hear them, a hundred birds singing open the sky somewhere up ahead. It’s stopped raining and I say to our son, “Listen. Listen. Do you hear them?” He raises his head skywards, but then is off running again, as if glorious birdsong is simply what he expects of the day. The brown grasses and brown sky, a family walking in the wetlands during the rainy season. “Come on,” Micha yells. “Let’s run.” These days we are practicing the fine art of walking, stopping, waiting. But exuberance is a kind of wind and who in their right mind tells the wind to stop when there is the wide world to see. We make it all the way to the bridge, but then the wind picks up, the sky closes in and the birds quiet. My husband and I realize it may take a while to make our way back with a three and a half year old who wants to see and touch everything. “Do you want to ride on my shoulders?” his father asks. “Of course not,” our son says, the phrase he is trying on that week. We finally round the last corner as the rain begins. Then, without warning, the sun comes out too and we see it — a perfect arch of rainbow — the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Micha reaches for it, tries to grab it and put it in his pocket.
About the Creative Process:
My husband, Theo, and I adopted our son Micha True when he was two days old after many years of trying and waiting for the miracle of him. First Words was written during the first year of Micha’s life. Birth Mom was an attempt to better understand the incredible courage, love and heartache a mother must feel who decides to let go of the child she has been carrying. Song of Sleep and Wetlands were written in the Spring of 2016 shortly before our son turned four. This mixed media art piece celebrates Micha and I on our shared path of discovery. I created this piece as a participant in the Spring 2016 Art of Motherhood class series.
Dawn Thompson oversees Portland Women Writers, which offers workshops where women access their creative power and express their authentic voice in a fun, transformational, vibrant community. Dawn believes writing our stories, whether they originate from our life experience or our imagination, is a sacred act that liberates, heals and transforms us. Dawn lives with her family in Portland, Oregon, and she can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.