Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. Jeremiah 1:5
In honor the annual March for Life, here is some poetry about the most important, sacred journey we take as human beings – bringing someone new into this world.
Blessing of an Expectant Mother (Medieval Catholic Rite)
In the Middle Ages it was customary for a pastor to announce from the pulpit on Sundays the names of women whose time of childbirth was close at hand, and to ask the people’s prayers for them. But his solicitude did not stop there. He also visited the homes of such women, first said prayers outside the home, and then entered and administered the sacraments and the sacramentals of the Church.
A Child is Something Else Again
TRANSLATED BY CHANA BLOCH
A child is something else again. Wakes up
in the afternoon and in an instant he’s full of words,
in an instant he’s humming, in an instant warm,
instant light, instant darkness.
A child is Job. They’ve already placed their bets on him
but he doesn’t know it. He scratches his body
for pleasure. Nothing hurts yet.
They’re training him to be a polite Job,
to say “Thank you” when the Lord has given,
to say “You’re welcome” when the Lord has taken away.
A child is vengeance.
A child is a missile into the coming generations.
I launched him: I’m still trembling.
A child is something else again: on a rainy spring day
glimpsing the Garden of Eden through the fence,
kissing him in his sleep,
hearing footsteps in the wet pine needles.
A child delivers you from death.
Child, Garden, Rain, Fate.
BY IDRA NOVEY
Does no dishes, dribbles sauce
across the floor. Is more dragon
than spaniel, more flammable
than fluid. Is the loosening
in the knit of me, the mixed-fruit
marmalade in the kitchen of me.
Wakes my disco and inner hibiscus,
the Hector in the ever-mess of my Troy.
All wet mattress to my analysis,
he’s stayed the loudest and longest
of any houseguest, is calling now
as I write this, tiny B who brings the joy.
BY GAIL MAZUR
On the telephone, friends mistake us now
when we first say hello—not after.
And that oddly optimistic lilt
we share nourishes my hopes:
we do sound happy. . . .
Last night, in my dream’s crib,
a one-day infant girl.
I wasn’t totally unprepared—
there was the crib, and cotton kimonos,
not just a padded dresser drawer.
And then, I knew I could drive
to the store for the tiny, funny
clothes my daughter wears.
I was in a familiar room
and leaned over the rail, crooning
Hello, and the smiling baby—
she’d be too young for speech,
I know, or smiles—
gurgled back at me, Hullo.
—If I could begin again,
I’d hold her longer, closer!
Maybe that way, when night opens
into morning, and all my windows
gape at the heartbreaking street,
my dreams wouldn’t pierce so,
I wouldn’t hold my breath
at the parts of my life still in hiding,
my childhood’s white house
where I lunged toward the flowers of love
as if I were courting death. . . .
Over the crib, a mobile was spinning,
bright birds going nowhere,
primary colors, primary
as mothering once seemed. . . .
Later, I wonder why I dreamt
that dream, yearning for what I’ve had,
why it was my mother’s room,
the blonde moderne bedroom set
hidden under years of junk—a spare room’s
the nicest way to put it,
though now all
her crowded rooms are spare—
BY SYLVIA PLATH
Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo’s mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools’ Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.
Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.