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on being a mom…a poem

May 12, 2008

Mother’s Day changed for me when I became a mom…my poetry did too. The previous post is in response to readwritepoem‘s prompt to write about your mom; I wrote it before I had a child.

So I wanted to also post a poem this Mother’s Day about being a mom, and from many, I chose this one written as part of the 3:15 experiment which asks participants to post their poems as written at 3:15am, and it was published in the anothology between sleeps.

It’s also another one of my poem’s with a train in it (the inspiration of living close to the tracks!) so it’s especially apropos good for the poetry train too…

This is dedicated to all those breast-feeding moms…

it is quiet now after the train goes past
shaking the house rocking the baby back to sleep
it is quiet now except the steady buzz
of the air cleaners and the occasional truck
on the freeway

it is quiet now he is not snoring the
baby is not crying the cat is not
yearning to join us inside
the cat has been locked out of our
room allowed only to brave through the cat door into limbo
he brings us too many treasures
half dead half alive voles rats
gophers at night birds during the day
he brought down a seagull once
left it on the deck outside the bedroom

the little birds i try to salvage
pry the teeth off the hummingbird
place it shocked but alive in a box with a towel on
the stove check for rustlings i
am tempted to keep it what’s more
exotic than la chuparosa bird of
love in my bedroom? but i always
open the box let the hummingbirds fly off
even the one with only one leg
he was
loose in the high ceilinged bedroom
i opened all the windows
scavenged for red clothes, red hats, sweatshirts
hummingbirds are attracted to red pink magenta
suspect they’ll find nectar there
but this one he keeps banging his head
on the ceiling balding the feathers drift down
with a broom i finally guide him out

this year the little mockingbird tempts me
his feathers haven’t grown in quite yet
he has fledged left the nest
the electrician wants to know this and that
and careful i say there’s a baby bird there by your foot
don’t step on him

i have had luck with birds before
taking my shirt off placing it on the bird
in the dark the bird is calm and can be
moved but i resist revealing my breasts bare and engorged
with milk i know the bird will be
stepped on and i do pick him up in my hands

i already have one baby in the house
he is 8 months old and sleeping
i cannot keep this baby this bird and
the world has so many mockingbirds
already but
was this one born of the parents
i watched mating between the roses?
was this one from the nest in
the jasmine by the hot tub?

the electrician is asking me questions and i
am consumed by the bird knowing that
to put him down even with the
parent screeching nearby is to invite death
he is soft in my hands the bird
so fragile i hold him gentle and he jumps
lands by the electrician’s foot
i can’t leave him there and resume talking
the milk says i must return to my own child
the bird goes on the ground under the
later with my baby in my arms i find his stubby feathers
i want to tell the mama i tried but how would she ever understand

i hold my little redhead close
stay with me my son
don’t ever leave my breast

18 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2008 3:50 pm

    Wow, what an amazing poem. I love the stream of consciousness through all the images of birds, ending up with your own baby bird. The juxtaposition between the bird at the man’s foot, in danger, your milk, having to watch out for baby birds and son, it captures the essence of being a mother. And you wrote it before being a mother? Wow.

  2. May 12, 2008 7:21 pm

    That is a lot of thought going through your mind! But then it really reflect was goes through the mind of a new mom!

  3. May 12, 2008 7:40 pm

    thanks maria christina but i ahve to admit, this one i wrote as a new mom, breast feeding an 8 month old…so different i think from the previous post where i am writing about teh moms who came before me in my lineage.

    yeah, i love how 315 mind works, how it unravels and rewinds and the birds come together…this one was published in the 315 book, between sleeps: the 315 experiment 1993-2005. i only wrote a few that year–i was soo sleep deprived i couldn’t manage doign the 315 experiment but i am glad for the few i did i write, including this one, and that it got some of that new mom ness

  4. May 12, 2008 9:17 pm

    Both of these are good writes, I particularly enjoyed the first.

  5. May 13, 2008 3:19 pm

    I love this, the recognition of the fragility and the preciousness of life.

    ‘the world has so many mockingbirds
    already but
    was this one born of the parents
    i watched mating between the roses?
    was this one from the nest in
    the jasmine by the hot tub?’

  6. May 13, 2008 3:27 pm

    thank you Julia!

    315 poems challenge me sometimes as I am tempted to delete passages which I am unsure of in the light of day…those lines you quoted for example! and i question the long intro about saving various birds…

  7. May 14, 2008 2:42 am

    Both are very good. Glad I came around to read those!

    child to love?

  8. Sophie permalink
    May 14, 2008 10:18 pm

    Both poems are beautiful. i love this one & the way it connects motherhood and caring for all small lives.

  9. May 15, 2008 2:47 am

    Lovely poem. My chihuahuas are never as subtle as that cat!

  10. May 21, 2008 12:22 am

    another story in a poem. i love this. it is so surreal–another thing i’m partial to. the metaphor and image of a bird for the fragility and vulnerability of new life while simultaneously reminding us of its spirit works well.

    I might have to try this ‘3:15’ experiment. tho as i am a severe insomniac too often i am not yet asleep by 3:15 so I would have to improvise.

  11. November 29, 2008 5:16 pm

    I re-read this one, and I still love it, even more. Thanks for reading my villanelle. I enjoy experimenting.

    Hope you don’t mind my other comment. I admire your writing, and think you deserve the award of creative poet, but not from me, just in general.

  12. November 29, 2008 5:51 pm

    No offense, Christine.

    I appreciate your admiration Christine–especially since I consistently enjoy yours!

    If I had a clue how to do badges or even how to put them on my blog (I have failed too many times to count!) we could do an award! maybe for blogging poet moms??

  13. poeticgrin permalink
    May 1, 2009 5:45 pm

    A mama through and through. I just discovered this poem and it is one of my favorite I’ve read on WordPress.

  14. May 1, 2009 6:51 pm

    oh, gosh thank you!

  15. Kyle Lawrence permalink
    June 13, 2009 5:08 am

    Oh my God, that was amazing Gwen.


  1. feeding hummingbirds
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  3. Virtual Reading & Sample Poems from Middle of the Night (en theos press 2011) « art predator

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