Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Ache of Motherhood

For almost 3.5 years, I carried a child within and/or fed one from my body. I experienced a five-month period of "and."

I open my eyes to Day #4 of neither.

I reclaim my body because my mind says it's time. The baby doesn't cry, or even ask, for my milk. When she wakes in the middle of the night, I pull her into bed, and she nestles in beside.

In the pitch dark, her hand unfurls as a flower reaching toward the sun. She strokes my cheek with her warm palm and falls asleep.

I reclaim my body, but for what? What can be greater than growing a child? I can't celebrate what issues from an empty womb, what drips from a too-full breast.

No one travels this loneliness with me. It feels like the silence of 3:30 AM after first snow; like the injured elk tipping its great chin and bugling, at dusk; like the owl hooting, unheard, at midnight.

It feels like standing among empty chairs in the middle of a meadow, somewhere. I don't know quite where; I'm only about half there.

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