Sheri Leseberg and Paula Whitacre

Sheri Leseberg
Response

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.


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One Comment

  1. Bobbie Troy
    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.

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