From Napping

People often ask how I am adjusting. I know they are asking how I am adjusting to HK, but I really think the biggest adjustment I am making these days is to being a stay-at-home mom.  I am doing ok—Finn and I are developing a rhythm, meeting other moms and babies, and I am getting quite adept at managing a stroller, a shopping bag, a crying baby and a purse all by myself.  When he smiles at me after waking up, or takes a break from nursing just to coo, or giggles from the sheer pleasure of being back at home, or when I watch him discover how to move his hips in just the right way to be able to reach that toy, I am filled with gratitude that I get to be there to watch him grow up, certain that I am doing the right thing.  But then there are the other days ...     

From “Napping” 

lines composed 18 floors above Kings Road, Hong Kong; inspired by Li-Young Lee's poem “From Blossoms”, our son's favorite going-to-sleep poem, on a day when the poem wasn't working.

From "napping" comes
this red wrinkly face
of a boy we brought home
at the end of nine months
when we turned toward signs painted baby.

From laden bowels, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bed,
comes water in the nighttime, rushing
waves we deliver, labored breaths and all,
comes the familiar cry of babies, cries we crave.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us a child, to bear
not only tomorrow but today,
not only the rainbow but the gray. To hear
the cries in your ears, endure them, then hold onto
the round jubilance of boy.

There are days we live
as if college were nowhere
in the background; from tear
to tear to tear, from diaper to diaper,
from nap to nap to
impossible nap, to sweet impossible nap.





fairlen said...

wow. That was beautiful! I almost cried...

Frieda said...

Oh my, I really connect with this. You know that you and Chip always preferred Dad's singing to your choir singing mother. But I remember one day while I was cooking dinner and you were sitting in a baby carrier in the middle of the kitchen table. I started singing to you and you began to giggle and I of course kept singing to you to hear you giggle. Needless to say dinner was late that evening. I was never able to sing you to giggles again, and maybe that is why I remember that one time so vividly.

Those not so pleasant days pass from such vivid memory, although at the time they were the days that would sometimes leave me overwhelmed!

DeAne said...

Here's a poem in return. This one from Sharon Olds


When she was first in the air, upside down,
it linked us, the stem on which she had blossomed.
And they tied a knot in it, finishing
the work of her making. The limp remnant—
vein, and arteries, and Jelly of Wharton—had
lived as it would shrivel, by its own laws,
in a week it would wither away, while the normal
fetal holes in her heart closed,
the foramen ovale shutting the passage
the placental blood had swept, when her lungs,
flat in their dog-eared wet, had slept.
I was in shock, my life as I had known it
over. When they sent us home, they said
to bathe the stump in alcohol
twice a day. I was stone afraid,
and yet she was so interesting—
moist, doubled-up, wondering, undersea
being. And the death-nose at the belly-center wizened
and pizzled and ginsenged and wicked-witch'd until
the morning I undid her pajamas, and there, in the
night's cereus petals, lay her stamen,
in its place on her the folded tent,
imbliu, nabhila, nafli, at last
purely hers, toward the womb an eye now
sightless, now safe in moated memory.

darcy austin said...

i asked angela if she knew anything about you guys and she referred me to your lovely blog
how grand to think of your sweet selves spreading your influence in faraway (from me) places and to a baby!!!
i too am voting for obama

darcy austin said...

i'm not expecting him to be able to make huge giant changes in one month but to change the tone
i think racism is our greatest challenge as a nation so...
good to think of you

foodsmith said...

Darcy--I have to admit that it took a minute to figure out why your name sounded familiar and who you were, but then it clicked! Great to hear from you--and please say hi to Jim from us.


foodsmith said...

And DeAne--I want to tell you that the other poem we recite to Finn to get him to sleep is Mary Oliver's Maybe. I first read it in your X'n Women of the Third World class I took as a freshman. I still love that poem, and it's one of only a handful I have memorized (which is why Finn hears it every night). Thank you.

DeAne said...


Lovely to know that a piece of your early college works stays with you!