Waterfall

There are many loves in this life
All we can hope
Is that they multiply all the others

There are bits of me
Left with my high school boyfriend
The cheap ring in the back of his car
The smoke in my hair
But I took pieces of him too
And I’ll never say he wasn’t well loved

College girl I loved quietly
Still has my skinny brown belt
And the softest blush I’ve ever gifted
But I took pieces of her, too.
And I’ll never say she wasn’t well loved.

Boy laced with anger
Still has my pink panties
And the last of my undeserved patience
But I took pieces of him, too.
And I’ll never say he wasn’t well loved.

I fall hard and I fall fast
Every time
I am a terrible fortress
I am a waterfall
I’ll take that as a credit to my character

And I’ll never say they weren’t well loved
And I’ll never say they weren’t well loved
And I’ll never say they weren’t well loved

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Heavy

I’m painfully aware of the heaviness
His heart
His head
Your tiny body pulling at my shoulders
Not so tiny anymore, eh?
Knowing I hold them all
My hands
My lap
In the crook of my neck
And my elbows, concomitantly
Creaky hips keep walking
Keeping pace with the poetry of sound
All that heaviness
Not heavy on my soul
Heaviness just means my hands are full
Rain keeps falling in the buckets I lay out
All I ask for keeps getting heavier
And that is the nature of blessing

All this enough

I have everything I ever wanted
Enough food to get fat
Enough time to diet
Enough vision to know this era won’t last
Enough sense to let you grow anyway
Close enough to people
That I can hear the neighbor boy playing basketball
Isolated enough
That I can worship the moon from my window
And smell the trees in the cemetery
Enough attachment to feel you close
And fear loss, too
I am softened and strendthened and filled
By all this enough

Care

Little One,

Some days, you reveal me to myself. Last night, you had trouble settling down after having guests for dinner. And when I took you in my lap and looked at you, I began to breathe. Deeply, slowly, loud enough for you to hear. I kept telling you, “Take a big breath. Just like Mama. Good! What a beautiful breath!” You would get distracted, of course, but I kept breathing those slow, deliberate inhales and rejoiced when you followed me again.

My mind is not much different. The meditation time that is supposed to be focused on that breath continues to be derailed by the world around me and the rambling of my anxious mind. I have the same amount of control as you do some days. Trying to coax a toddler into deep breathing is about the same as settling an adult mind into meditation. Every time we circle back to focus is a victory. I am just like you.

And in seeing this similarity, I thought back to a time where I heard the advice, “Treat yourself like a toddler.” I think I fully agree with that now. In the age where terms like “self care” have come to mean “self indulgence”, we forget the wisdom of toddlers. When a toddler is cranky, we as mothers go through the list of things that they might need: healthy food, sleep, water, exercise, human connection. But we seldom do this for ourselves. We have been told, “You deserve a break,” or “Treat yourself,” and we run to the vices that fill our voids. We have an extra drink, an extra doughnut, go to bed without a shower, stay in when you know it’s better to get a little sun on our weary bones. And when we feel guilty, we say mantras to ourselves that we hear other mothers say; “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” “Self care is not selfish,” “I love myself.”

But if you really loved yourself, loved yourself like you love your toddler, wouldn’t you want what’s best for you? When your toddler wants to stay up all night and watch Netflix, do you say, “I love you so much that I’ll let you do anything you like.”? No. You say, “I love you so much that I want you to be healthy. You won’t feel good tomorrow if you don’t sleep. So, even though you hate bedtime, it’s time to rest. Because I love you.” The same love and care should apply to me as it does to you, little one.

Thank you for letting me learn from watching you, sweet baby. I only hope I’m smart enough to learn enough to make us both better.

I love you,
Mama

Home

You learned the word “home”
And I don’t know what you think it means
When I tell you “we’re home”
Or you are
Do you know what I mean?
This place we put down roots
And the walls smell like curry
Or that you are where my heart lives
Both are true, I suppose
When you wake up on my chest
And blink up at me, saying,
“Mama. Home?”
All the answers are yes.

Stay

Her days have nothing to begin for
The quiet of that too-roomy house
An unsuitable filler of the void
“Will you stay for dinner?
Will you stay?”
She asks ones who have outgrown her
Pity her
Leave her to her nonsense
Unable to prioritize
Swallowing anything in reach
But not standing up
To search for meaning
That atrophied spirit
Melting into the infirmary bed
She waits until we forget

Morning

Take my picture
When the light is low
My hair waves upon the pillow
Babe in my heavy arms

Watch the sway of my hips
In that oversized bathrobe
Sipping coffee
Chopping herbs
Listening to the vapor of your breath
Catch in your warm throat

Sit with me
While I read in a low voice
Messy hair and acoustic guitar adornment
Slow, sweet company

To the men who have loved me
Paint me in your tender hands
And think me soft enough
The way I am