Who have you become since becoming a mother, since sharing your body, your breasts with another soul so frustrating and perfect you couldn't help but change? You became an expert on linguistics reading her cues knowing her needs, An authority on jaundice and heel pricks and hiccups, On not throwing yourself off a cliff during the hours she screamed. Adept at introducing new siblings, a master at breaking up fights. No surprise you've become the Howard Dean of your home. You're now a pundit on Pokemon, puberty, the development of teeth, the soundtrack to ZOMBIES (and Descendants, duh). You can speak confidently at baby showers of spit up, eczema, allergies. And you know damned well that the time goes by so. achingly. slow. torturously taxing from one runny nose to the next ear infection. And sure the years are short. You've mostly become an expert on asserting that this shit is hard in the hardest of ways and it's okay, it's okay, it's okay to feel it that way. You're not who you were nor who you'll become. You're just a lady - a portal - through which new life keeps pouring and you've learned you know nothing at all anyway.
I cursed when I almost fell down the front steps. (again) I cursed when the church bell clanged directly overhead, soul leaving body as I rushed late for pickup. (again) I found them waiting in a pew like the angels they (sometimes) are. I cursed quite loudly in the valley of the shadow of Walmart when the six-year-old knocked the cart completely off balance. (again) But we return, we reset, we begin. (again)
We broke a platter today. The one with a neighborhood of colorful houses crowded upon it, a wedding gift from Beth Ogden who I always considered so classy. How many times have you been shattered this way, precariously placed too near an edge, knocked from foundation, scattered near the sink, little pieces of you mingling with wet food in the drain? How many times have you put back together, rearranged, reassembled your own little houses, reconstructing a neighborhood arranging new dwellings, moved safe from the landslides, with a comfortable cottage built just for you?
The priest reminded me that Saints don't become saints overnight. They become saints not necessarily because they're extra-special but because they are Persistent. Like a crocus forging on despite the fact that the last snows have yet to fall. Like the cardinal singing his Heart out regardless of the fact that we've all heard that tune before. The back door of my van which insists upon opening at the slightest joggle of the key fob though this is not supposed to happen. My children endlessly calling mom mom mom mom mom look at me look at me look at me daring me to sit up and watch despite the fact I've seen the matinee. Persistence to show up facts be damned forcing even non-interested parties to take note. Choosing to believe that there is much worth seeing much worth sitting up for much to observe on the riverbank opposite apathy despite the bone tiredness in my soul.
The National Guard is conducting live fire training five miles away, rattling our windows, frightening the dog, startling my jittery shell-shocked soul, driving home the point. My 11 year old draws a grenade, explains to me how it works, which is easier to survive, grenade in water or grenade on land. She learned this on YouTube from some scientists performing safety experiments. This experimental empathy, this walk in the shoes of another, this drawing breath while a sister sighs her last, baby in her womb sighing, too, This longing for peace, it combines and shreds to shrapnel the way things were, stripping them back, revealing what has been before and before and before. My slippered feet are comfortable in shearling while yours are sore from walking, running fighting, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I cannot comprehend this. In the morning I return to my poem, am interrupted by a clogged shower drain and the sound of rehearsing helicopters overhead.