Friday, January 05, 2018

Poetry Friday: Then and Now

Back in 2011, I watched a friend care for her son during church, and then wrote the poem below.  I sent it to the friend, and she posted it on her blog, but I realized the other day when I was looking for it that I had never posted it here on my own.

It's easy to look back on lovely times in the past and wish for them back, but in the spirit of my OLW for 2018, ENOUGH, I'm also posting a more recent poem, appreciating some of the advantages of my life now.

Holding a Baby in Church

As the praise band warms up
The mom notices me ogling her baby
And asks if I'd like to hold him.
Would I!  I grab him, trying not to seem too eager,
And relish the feel of the bundle.

That sweet weight brings back
Years of Sundays
When the baby I held was my own.

In those years I lived more in my body than my head
As I carried babies all day
And nursed them at my breast.
I was indispensable,
Source of all they needed.
When we were apart
I could kiss ouchies over the phone.
I was the great and powerful Mommy.

I would stand to sing,
Relieved, because sitting down,
I was likely to go to sleep
(Another short night).
I swayed to the music, letting keeping the baby happy
Be my excuse to move.
Worship then was physical, primal,
As my tired body swayed back and forth
And as the fierce love I had for that baby
Reminded me, deeper than words,
Of the love of God for me.

This baby, who is not mine, starts to fuss
And I give him back to his mother.
I see her nurse him
And later I see them outside
And I remember that too,
Walking in the back of the sanctuary,
Pacing with a noisy child
Out of earshot,
Longing to hear the sermon.

These days I am back in my head;
I sit in the pew and nobody is in my lap or
Putting little arms around my neck.
I am clean and nobody has drooled on me.
I stand still to sing.
My shirt remains tucked in.
My children read their own Bibles
And I can hear the sermon all the way through.

As I look at the mom
Whose baby I borrowed for a moment
I wish for her life,
The aching body,
The fatigue,
The dear, ever-present weight in my arms.


Gratitude List

Praise be this evening for work ended,
the bare feet, the droning fan,
the smell of soy sauce floating upstairs from the kitchen.
Praise be the doves outside my window,
the dried eucalyptus in the bottle,
the empty mug, my tea already drunk.
Praise be the books on my shelves,
the photos of friends who smile at me benignly,
the fully-charged laptop, playing music I’ve chosen.
Praise be the lizard, scampering across the wall,
digesting bugs that will not trouble me tonight.
Praise be the quiet, the nobody needing anything,
the slight rumbling of my stomach that will soon be quelled,
the peace, and sleep not far off.


(Here's the first time I posted this one, back in April 2017, including a link to my mentor text poems, "Gratitude List," by Mary Lee Hahn, and "Gratitude List," by Laura Foley.)

Today's roundup is at Reading to the Core.


SW said...

Love the post! Love the poems!

Jessica Stock said...

I love this poem! I can so relate. We thought those days would never end and now I long for that sense of centeredness and clarity of purpose. I love your gratitude list, too. Great idea.

Linda Mitchell said...

Ruth, I love your OLW. What a complex idea...and simple articulation. Just love it.

Oh, my goodness did your first poem take me back. I had longed for babies, begged God for babies and finally after adopting three and birthing one kind of lost myself for a bit. I was fine mentally. But living in my body like you describe. And, I'm such a thinker! Your poem is not only beautiful because of the words....but the tone and the ending. Well, it just takes me back and is my present as well.

Well done!

Donna Smith said...

Thank you, Ruth, for posting that church mom and baby poem. Yes. Though I loved every stage of children, that one is the one time when you are locked fully, body and soul, to another human. And though I enjoy the clean that comes this stage of life, I do like trips back to that former life with grandchildren now.

Tabatha said...

I love how your poem is laden with rich sensory details. Takes me right back!

Irene Latham said...

Oh the stages of motherhood! Praise be no one needing me... I can sure relate to that right now. And also the grief... for so many years I was a human jungle gym to my 3 little monkeyboys, and that's really what I miss most -- the physicality of young motherhood. Thank you for sharing. xo

Catherine said...

I work with several women who have babies and while I can't imagine having the energy to deal with them after working all day, I do miss that "dear, ever-present weight in my arms." Both of your poems are lovely, Ruth. Thank you for sharing them today.

Linda B said...

There is such goodness in both times. I'm going to meet a new baby today, will remember your words of that sweet nestling I don't have anymore, but still hugs from the grand-girls who still sit close when we read or talk on the sofa. Thanks, Ruth, both are beautiful.

Mary Lee said...

So fun to see those gratitudes pop up again!

I've never been a mother, but your poem gave me the experience through your words! Job well done!!

Unknown said...

Those are both beautiful. I remember having a baby in my arms as well. Being the one to comfort when the baby grows irritable. And that second one, with its scents and colors, how beautiful is the world through your eyes.

Michelle Kogan said...

What a satisfying post, in so many ways thinking back, yet appreciating what one has now, I like this line,
"Praise be the quiet, the nobody needing anything," thanks Ruth!

Diane Mayr said...

I have a grandson whom I'm loving to hold. Your poem is a lovely reminder to cherish the moment.

Kay said...

I love both of these poems! The first one, especially hits me because of the changes we are going through as my daughter stretches her wings to fly. I love seeing her take off, but I also miss and treasure those past moments that your poem captures. And that gratitude poem--Yes I have so many things to stop and be thankful for right now.