My mother enters the kitchen, says that her hands
are dripping, begs my father to finish his work
at the sink. I observe, for a moment, the expression
upon her face which seems conflicted between
a desire to laugh and a need
to feel clean.
I interject that clearly her fate is to have
dog placenta on her hands for all eternity.
Her disgust and amusement seem equally to rise.
After she has washed herself, she speaks of
Ponyo's last intermission between long
intervals of birthing to nap three fleeting minutes;
another contraction gave way to a wriggling
new mole who squeaked and groaned with
bizarre endearment, seizing my heart and causing
its mother's head, after jolting awake,
to go limp.
Mom says it's sad-but-sweet. Dear dog
has spent herself six times already in increments
which, as they increase, draw her spirit still closer
to a totally inevitable chasm of fled energy;
as soon as she falls asleep, yet a new indignant mass
of living parts swaddled in loose skin and wet fur
shoves its way outward, forward, world-ward.
Ponyo is not selfish. Immediately after birth seven,
she begins to lick her offspring clean and nudge it
towards her belly, where it may feed itself.
"Only just got a break, and already she's
back to work."
I'm one of five children my mother has carried
and raised--and for a human, five are many!
I'm afraid to give birth even once, despite
that a greater want of mine is to hold
my own child someday. I wonder if that
is motherhood: discomfort and indecision
concerning the worth of the effort in labor,
in birth, in the weak moments thereafter--
stroking one's child's downy, collapsible head
and feeling a need to protect her, to nurture her,
that is more pressing even than the so-
alluring whispers which Sleep may breathe--
and even beyond these moments, when I have said
to my mother that I hate her (because
to me, it was obvious that I did not,
and was too callous, obtuse, and insensitive
to think that she might just believe it)
and then missed church the next day to stay
with her when she felt ill and tired--if this
is motherhood, I wonder. It must be more even
than I could ever have thought like wanting
to laugh and to wring one's hands
(and even just to go to sleep)
all at once.
© K.E. Parks, 2012