My children are growing up...
I guess this shouldn't be a surprise to me. Pregnancies began and ended with three incredibly different births...the babies each held to their own patterns in those earliest days and months...I was there. I knew time would pass. All of those initial cliches people would spout off to me, the harried new mother,
"Oh, the days are long but the years are short."
"Enjoy them while they're small!"
"Celebrate each moment with them--time flies, you know."
And I would stare at the infant staring back at me and think,
We have a whole lifetime until you are grown.
The days and the years are long...they feel long.
Time doesn't fly--it crawls along on its belly. We have plenty of it.
It turns out...
I was wrong.
School comes for them and I am standing awkwardly to the side--the new place, it seems, for the mothers of older children. In infancy, we are the sun, the moon, the whole sky...now, we are clouds passing over unnoticed--fleeting shadows who move without the meaning or gravity we once knew. Or so it is for me...and for Barbara Crooker, the amazing poet who wrote this:
The Blue Snake Lies Curled in My Bowl Like Oatmeal
Coffee sticks like syrup in my throat.
I cannot let you go, my child, my love,
eyes liquid as marbles.
Tears hide in each cheek,
about to rain.
Your hand is as small as a wish,
waving to me,
who has belted you in securely
on each voyage all these years,
tightened the cord,
must I give you up so easily
to cold steel, flashing lights,
the teacher's chalky smile?
I hand you over;
time is given back to me:
two hours to fill
with black snaked lines
on fine, blue-veined pages,
while your stubby hands sweat
on crayon covers;
trying to redo, with circles and lines,
the spangled world behind your eyes;
making fat clay worms
that tangle and break.
Time is mine alone,
yet my arm crooks to hold you
young and babied once more.
My hand fights the discipline
of the page, and the cold snake within me
squeezes as though to burst.
Are we always to be wanting
the greenest grass
accord and principle
motherhood and career?
Yet our age lies to us
like an asp,
But to work is to abandon
to indifferent, casual hands,
what I, the potter, have worked
this demi-decade to achieve in you,
You respond to my words
like a cobra to a flute,
like the wooden chimes on the porch
dance to the soft music of the wind
from our lake.
But these five years are spent, idle, and gone
with but a handful of poems to show.
No publications from Antaeus to Xanadu,
but you, my poemchild,
whose smile is all my sonnets.
--Barbara Crooker, 1978--
My three masterpieces and I are indulging in the last dreams of the summer...time is fleeting. I want to grab every new mother on the street and tell her, "Hold on tightly now. It will all go so fast. You'll wake up to an empty morning, an empty notebook, and wonder how to begin again now that your stories have boarded a big yellow bus and gone."