I’ve been working on a project for my mother’s birthday – though clearly I haven’t been working hard enough at it, because her birthday is in two days and I’m not even done with it yet, so who knows when it’ll get packed up and into the mail. But it’s this: I have a few poetry books from which I’ll select a handful of poems to read aloud into my voice recorder (a feature on my Creative MP3 player, and yes I’ve been quite pleased with both of the Creative players I’ve purchased), and then I’ll transfer the files to computer, and burn them onto a CD for my mom. I might include a few of my own poems in the group as well (the one below, called “Weight,” being my first candidate). I’m hoping to get the readings done this evening, while Jeff and the boys are at Ryan’s football practice; after that’s done, the rest (the techie part) should be easier…she said confidently, ha ha.
My mom has never been a big “reader,” and I don’t think she’s ever been a poetry fan, but since it will be my voice reading them, and I’m being fairly selective about the ones I’m reading, I think she’ll appreciate it. I wanted to read some Mary Oliver to her when I visited in April, but she didn’t want to hear it. Since she’s better now, I thought she might get a little enjoyment out of them, whereas she got little enjoyment from anything in the spring.
Although she didn’t read poetry, I often read my new poems to her in my late teens and early 20s, if I thought they were halfway good. I always knew if she liked one, because as soon as I finished reading, she would say, “Oooh!” Not “Oh,” like the letter “o,” but “Oooh,” to rhyme with “new” or “true,” the little pleased and surprised exclamation that says, “That’s kinda neat!” Nothing deep or intellectual, no “constructive feedback,” but just an “Oooh!” Or, no “Oooh.” I really liked those times my poem would get an “Oooh!” from my mom. I think we understood each other pretty well, those times.
(Originally posted on MySpace on July 19, 2006, soon after it was written)
In college, there was a poster
stuck up on the living room wall
depicting women of all sizes and shapes
floating, drifting across the sky.
“Celebrate your natural sizes,” it said.
When Lori and I considered this message,
my response was quick, and practical:
“But I can’t fit into my natural clothes!”
This is only one moment from the ongoing story
of extra weight — so rarely lost,
and far too often found.
At full term with my first son, I weighed
one hundred ninety-seven pounds;
with my second, two hundred ten.
It’s difficult to comprehend
having a second belly, one that kicks.
During the third trimester, I carried
a weight I could never put down.
Such exquisite relief I felt
when the doctor lifted my firstborn from me:
I was instantly, refreshingly lighter.
Last evening, my second son,
almost four, fell asleep on the drive
to the library. I unbuckled him,
put his lollipop in my mouth, picked up
his heavy sleeping weight, his head
almost slipping off my shoulder.
Inside the building — blessedly cool
on the hottest day of the year —
I dropped off our videos, and threw
the lollipop away. I quickly found the book
I wanted, brought it and my son
to the self-checkout. I imagined myself
laying him down at my feet,
but I didn’t. I juggled my wallet,
my library card, the book, and my kid,
then took everything out into the heat.
My shirt had scooted up my tummy,
and Ryan’s shirt was higher still.
My arms were weakening, my mind
recalling a pregnant belly, the weight
I could never put down.
My sleeping son is no longer
that same bundle of joy, but a boy
who’s been calling me “Pretty Mommy.”
I open the door, and gently put him down.
I start the car, then softly strap in
my handsome son, this wondrous, precious weight.