Body as Temple
Nobody told me before he was born
about the fog of difficulty through which I’d start out loving him.
My husband fell instantly in love and has been ever since,
but for me there was also the body turned inside out
and the ravages of hormones
and the muscles straining over time to hold this new weight,
collapsing now and again in pain.
He came out of my body
where two souls had been housed in one place
like some kind of crowded Hong Kong apartment,
and I’ve been physically on duty ever since,
like a soldier keeping night watch,
passionate for his side’s cause,
trying to stay awake to keep the others safe
even when comfort would rule for laying the sleepy head down,
if even for a moment, just to rest.
Somehow I didn’t realize before he got here
that all efforts would be rallied for this cause, his life,
his living and growing and thriving,
that I would be consumed in my care of this boy
while looking, for all intents and purposes, to the outside world, hardly productive at all.
I didn’t know that in the midst of myriad baby pictures,
I would seldom be photographed with him
even though he is almost constantly affixed to my body,
and I spend each night nursing him back to sleep when he wakes,
my days are organized around getting him what he needs when he needs it,
and I am constantly hungry and needing to eat so I can make his milk
which has grown him into a strong and joyful boy,
such pleasant company, and friendly to all.
So few pictures exist of me in his presence
even though we are still, in some ways,
two souls sharing my body.
No one mentioned that I might not really want my picture taken,
with showers on average every five or so days,
and hair gone gray and frizzy,
as if my body now decided to go ahead and look its age or more
after popping him out masterfully in less than eight hours
like a young woman in her twenties might do.
I had always thought love was an emotion
and thus equated with feelings,
but my love for my son is rather built
upon every physical, visceral sensation of
pleasure and pain I have ever experienced since his conception.
It is the Taj Mahal. It is Notre Dame de Paris.
It has been built, stone by stone, in the hot toiling sun.
It shines now in its magnificence
and will last through the ages for all the world to see.