‘you okay?’ i ask for the seventeenth time
that day and you humor me, smile that same
old smile, as if the whole world isn’t growing
inside you. ‘right as rain,’ you say, resigned to
the fact that this baby is not coming today
maybe not tomorrow. forty weeks may
take a particular amount of time to pass but
after that, each day
each twenty-four hours
passes like an eclipse: long and slow and best
not to look directly at it.
you sit back in your chair and you drink from your
mug and i marvel at the woman you have
become. this, your sixth childbirth, and yet you
are a pool of still water. we both know
what is coming, the gradual increase, the pinnacle,
the parting of flesh, the eruption of life, and yet
there you sit, letting your raspberry tea
soak another minute, or making a list of things
to do tomorrow, a list of people to invite over
just in case.
you bear the burden of knowing
it is late. we should both be sleeping. but we read.
you, the long ago faraway adventures of Taran, and
I read The Memory of Old Jack.
He is four miles and sixty-four years away,
in the time when he had music in him and he was light.
and i think, ‘that’s it,’ and i think,
‘yes.’ you have music in you, the music of fragile bones
swimming through ancient waters waiting to break, the
preposterous music of two thumping rhythms
in one body, the music of pressure
loosening hips and joints and tendons like the plucking
of a bass. There is a symphony
inside you, playing its chaotic warmup, waiting for some
conductor to raise the baton and bring
it all into sync.
Though he is at the end now, looking back at the beginning,
the pleasure of that work
and what it anticipated
comes to him again and fills his mind.
i turn out the lights and walk the dark house. soon, there
will be another one
among us. i check on everyone: the boy at the back
of the house, the girls upstairs, the boy, also upstairs,
and the smallest lion, asleep on his back, mouth open,
curls twisting over ears. it is inconceivable, the lives.
i slip back into bed. your foot
grazes mine, moves on, then strays back against me. skin
touching skin. you are curled into
position like a fern. ‘rest,’ i think. ‘rest.’
it is midnight now.
another day has come and gone.