Her fate seizes her and brings her
down. She is heavy with it. It
wrings her. The great weight
is heaved out of her. It eases.
She turns to the calf who has broken
out of the womb’s water and its veil.
He breathes. She licks his wet hair.
He gathers his legs under him
and rises. He stands, and his legs
After the months of his pursuit of her now
they meet face to face.
From the beginnings of the world
his arrival and her welcome
have been prepared. They have always
known each other.
~Wendell Berry from “Her First Calf”
I saw a mom take her raincoat off
and give it to her young daughter when
a storm took over the afternoon. My god,
I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her
raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel
that I never got wet.
~Ada Limón from “The Raincoat”
Mothering is like the labor that starts birth –
barely able to breathe,
bombarded by the firehose of contractions and pushing
then emptying out
while filling up to overflowing
for nurturing of this child forever
– so much so fast.
I knew them even before I met them. I knew them as they grew. They changed me; I became soft and cushiony, designed to gather in, hold tight, and then eventually, reluctantly and necessarily, let go.
All the while a mom does whatever she must to protect her children from getting overwhelmed and drenched by the storms of life.
Now that my children have children of their own, some already birthed, two soon to be birthed, I still try to throw my raincoat over them all to keep them from getting wet in inevitable downpours.
My reach will never be far enough.
Time, like a firehose, pounds away both at me and them. It is ruffing and buffing me every single moment, each moment a unique opportunity to love deeply and completely this soul who I carried under my heart.
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