Saturday Poem

I was never one

of those matter-
of-fact mothers
who tell their children
this is thus or what
to do. Though I knew
how to hold my babies
as soon as they were
handed to me, I could feel
how tremendous a life was.
This animal, cradled on my heart, mine
for the naming, how was I to guess
at what it wanted?
Milk, yes. Love, yes. To lie on
me and sleep—yes, yes. But
what I wanted to know
about my babies stitched back
to what I’d been
when I was young—
to what I wanted—
and I couldn’t remember that.
Sometimes, under my baby—
me a boulder, she a lion—
I’d feel our hearts beat
not as one, but stranger
still, as two hearts
pulsing through what
came between them—two
sets of ribs, two muscle walls, two
layers of skin. That I had pushed
my daughters from the dark
unknown of my own
body—I never
got over that.

by Trish Crapo
Walk Through Paradise Backward
Slate Roof Publishing Collective, 2004