Sheri Leseberg and Paula Whitacre

Sheri Leseberg

The First Week of Life
By Paula Whitacre

Inspiration piece

“In my new robe
this morning –
someone else.”
—Basho, 1644-1694

This someone is a mother who has just given birth.
She doesn’t know what to do.

Her gasping, grasping child, depends on her
Who will take care of me, I mean her, now?

I just want to curl up and go to sleep—not nurse,
Not comfort, not hold, not console.

My scar is sore, breasts sore,
My hair is greasy.

I bought the robe last month, along with
Little undershirts (yellow, green, sex not known),
A rocking chair, a soft caterpillar toy

Back then, motherhood was a magazine article,
Not sitting here only wanting to
Sleep and eat, sleep and eat.

The baby cries loudly.
I cry, too, softly.

I thought back then,
I have no right.
I’m supposed to feel content, maternal, competent,
Lucky, the child is healthy.

Now I know how impossible that would have been,
That the weight of the world is not dropped on your shoulder
Like a new robe
However soft
However enveloping
Without it hurting a lot before you get used to it.

Note: All of the art, writing, and music on this site belongs to the person who created it. Copying or republishing anything you see here without express and written permission from the author or artist is strictly prohibited.

One Comment

  1. Posted April 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm | #

    Very nice work. I love that the your poem, Paula, is based on Basho cuz I love haiku.