Saturday, July 30, 2011

Giving birth is like jazz

Inaugural Poet Elizabeth AlexanderImage by friends.sfpl via Flickr
Giving birth is like jazz, something from silence,
then all of it. Long, elegant boats,
blood-boiling sunshine, human cargo,
a handmade kite —
No longer a celebrity, pregnant lady, expectant.
It has happened; you are here,
each dram you drain a step away
from flushed and floating, lush and curled.
Now you are the pink one, the movie star.
It has happened. You are here,
and you sing, mewl, holler, peep,
swallow the light and bubble it back,
shine, contain multitudes, gleam. You
are the new one, the movie star,
and birth is like jazz,
from silence and blood, silence
then everything,

(an excerpt from Elizabeth Alexander's poem, "Neonatology")  
you can read the rest of it here.

I heard this poem while listening to a podcast (on Being) that friends recently recommended to us.  Elizabeth Alexander read one of her poems at President Obama's inaugural ceremony.  She also birthed two children within a year.  The second is more impressive to me at the moment.  In the podcast she said that becoming a mother forced her to write whenever she could - not when the moment was 'right' or she felt inspired.  She'd often create while awake with her babies in the night or while they ran around the living room.  

I find it hard to even post a blog weekly, and I only have one baby.  I find it even harder to actually put ideas onto paper - even half ideas or a few sentences.  I'm always looking for that anticipated surge of creativity or that irresistible urge to express myself. And it's rarely there - in fact, weeks go by without even a hint of inspiration.  

But it's something that really gives me life, when I do sit down and write, whether it's a letter to a friend, a poem or a few thoughts I've been pondering. Even a journal entry simply stating the events and thoughts of the day feels really ... good.  Ms. Alexander encouraged me to just do it, to scribble down words while my son nurses or is in his highchair with fruit slices, or during the 5 minutes of the day where he actually forgets about me and plays with (gasp!) his toys.  That's the real time, in real life, where beautiful new things can be born from the womb of this awesome and bone-tiring mothering that I live.  I don't have to try and escape that in order to write something that gives me life.  In fact, the really good stuff is probably waiting there in the shadows of boy and mama and our endless numbered days.

Enhanced by Zemanta


Post a Comment