by MARIA MAZZIOTTI GILLAN
Copyright 1985 Chantry Press
I have learned the litany of my life,
the pattern of repetitions orders
I have learned more than I ever
wanted to know, dream
back into innocence,
life clean of regret and the sky
yet today reels me in and what remains,
a crumb on a platter a snow-
covered roof pale winter light
is cause for celebration.
Even my bitter mouth
cannot ask for more than this
my heart beating
in its cage
my hands unclenching.
At 41, 1 am uncertain of more things
than I could have imagined twenty years ago.
Your existence or non-existence
hovers over me today. The voices
of the world my friends the liberated
women who are close to me cry abort abort abort in unison.
Yet the voice inside me shouts
shows my selfishness in its mirror
my soul's dark intent.
This neut, this merging of tiny cells
makes an explosion like comets colliding in my ordered universe.
I want to say: I'm too old, too tired,
too caught up in trying wings so long unused,
but that voice will not be silent. It beats
in my bones, cries to be allowed to live.
I did not know the child's voice would haunt
my days and nights with its primitive insistence.
Little life, floating in your boat of cells,
I will carry you under my heart though the arithmetic is against us both.
Today I bypass the baby departments,
the thousand reminders that come to me now. the young women wheeling strollers through
Bradlees, the girl in the maternity shirt
which proclaims: "I'm not lonely anymore."
1 want to scream, we are all born lonely,
and the child beating under our hearts
does not change that. I want to lie down
on the ugly pebbled floor of Bradlees and kick
my feet and pound my fists and make this intruder
in my life vanish.
As I stand at the checkout line, I see our years
unroll: the bottles
are boulders in my path, a mountain
of boulders I will have to climb
for you. I walk into the Spring sunlight
while my life snaps closed around me and my fear.
My friends are all my age, their children in
as mine are. I will be alone with you.
You will be born with a scowl on your face,
your hands shaking, having taken from the marrow
of my bones my own quaking.
We will rock together in this leaky boat and you
will grow into my belly like a tree.
I will love you,
I know, it is only in these first
moments, while I alter the picture of my life
I had painted with such sure strokes, only in these
moments that I wish wish you were not there.
The women speak of God
as though they know him well.
He is a tame creature
they invite to tea.
He sits at their table,
his finger crooked in just the proper way.
They congratulate themselves on their catch, this guest
they are certain is theirs.
Watching them, a gray
mouse of doubt grows
as it feeds on me.
Yet I reach toward you, even
through this darkness, reach
knowing you are a cataclysm,
which no small,
clipped and safe,
could possibly contain.
We used to reach it, take our
bikes up Lynack Road, pause
at gravestones in the bramblebushed cemetery, stones old and
fallen, wild flowers growing over
them in tangled clumps.
We sat cross-legged on the grass,
drinking our Cokes, preparing
for a journey whose distances
we could not even begin to measure.
Up Lynack Road into the back gate
of Blasberg's, we rode the crooked
rows, drowning in scented
apples, deep and scarlet
against a lilac-colored sky.
We careened down
the road, spring flying behind us like a cloak, unaware that one
day we would mourn the tangled underbrush, the lost curve
of apple trees, the blue