Sunday, December 19, 2010

Through the Eye of a Needle

I see them

as the long cold slants

of morning light

brush the sprawling, frost bitten

fields of Morton Mains

I see them

warm agile bodies, separating,

moving into the crisp morning

the heat of their lovemaking translucent

against the stoic farmhouse walls

I see her

tucking rambunctious curls into

a tight knot

her slender, bustling body

secretly carrying the seed of

their fourteenth child

as she bends to raise

a younger, hungry mouth

to her breast

I see him

tall and broad shouldered

fiercely handsome

pulling at the clothes of his long day

over shoulders made strong

from the demands

of loving and living on the soil

I see them

head strong, heart strong

steeped in the bleatings,

the never-ending demands

of the world’s young.

until her ears, her arms, her body, her heart

can bear no more new-borns.

I see the needle

desperately clean and sharp in her hand.

I want to tell her to stop

I want to tell her that this needle will pierce

the hearts of the generations that will come

one after another,

after another,

I want to tell her that one more child

is a smaller burden than

the empty space her absence

will leave in the lives of her children

of her grandchildren,

of her children’s, children’s children

But I know the desperation

all my mother’s have faced

in their longing for a life

lived on their own terms

And I know the courage it takes

to walk

with intention

with mindfulness

towards that life

It requires full-breasted courage

and open-eyed attention

focused and sharp

like the steely-eyed tip of a long needle.

Written after a reading of Sharon Olds I go back to May 1935

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