“THIS IS MY BODY” • POEMS BY POSTPARTUM MOTHERS • #5″
These are my bones. They are misplaced. They’ve shifted. Or they’re missing. They creak as I stand. They hobble as I take my first steps. I’ve become old and unstable, calcium wringing out from my femur and into my breastmilk. Take take take.
This is my hair. It’s a set of wires. I don’t recall the last time I brushed it or washed it or had someone with scissors tell me what to do with it. I want to start completely new. Be someone else. Shave it off or dye it blonde. But for now it’s wild and crinkly and I like not giving a shit about it.
These are my breasts. They are fat. Round. Finally big like I wanted in high school. They curl out of my bra like McDonald arches. I match my wide hips. I’m an hourglass. I’m something new. Except there is a price. They’re not sexy. They’ve lost all sensation. My nipples are sausages on a Papa John’s large. They leak until my bras are soaked yellow and my bed is a puddle of sour milk. Always a price to pay for cleavage in LA.
These are my breasts. They are magical. They’re food. They’re providers. They’re hourly reminders of my power, the divine, my motherhood, my femininity, the vastness of the world and my misunderstanding of it. They give life. They calm my baby. They are it.
This is my heart. My heart is as big as my body. It’s pumping an unending supply of love. There’s always more. No matter the hour, the day, the amount of puke down my shirt, my heart is still overflowing, pouring into my child who… for now… can do no wrong.
This is my neck. It’s soft. It’s a pillow. It’s the skin always available to my baby’s skin. It’s sometimes magic. It calms her. It holds her. It’s a reservoir for her tears and her spit up and the thoughts that empty out of her wandering eyes. It’s a magical resting place and maybe my new favorite body part.
This is my nose. It’s become a biological machine. A reminder of my self as animal. I can smell when my baby is near. And when she’s not, I sense the emptiness. My nose tells me I miss her. And that I need to be with her again.
This is my vagina. On the surface, it’s stretched. It says ‘leave me alone.’ It bleeds. And then stops. And then bleeds again. It wants nothing to do with you or you or you. But inside it’s a powerhouse. A canal to new life. It will be the vehicle that reminds me I’m a goddess, a miracle, a badass, a mom.
This is my back and these are my arms. They’re tired but strong. They keep going and going. At night, when I lay them on the bed, I’m sure they’re broken. But they keep going. They spend the days contorted, bent. The nights curled and snarled. But they keep going. Holding and shushing and carrying and bending. They never give up.
~This poem is part of a series of poems written by new mothers as part of a postpartum group/mothers’ circle facilitated by Britta Bushnell. The assignment was for each new mother to introduce their bodies to themselves and the group through poetry. Mothers were given the following instructions:
“Spend some time getting to know your new mother’s body. Pay attention to your body and how it has changed. Then, write a poem about it in the following format:
This is my (body part) it (what it does for you now as a parent/mother/woman).
Or…These are my ______, they______. (for plural parts like eyes, ears, hands, etc.)
Include your reproductive/sexual parts (breasts, belly, and vagina/yoni/your word choice) and a few others as well. Identify at least 8 body parts. New parents have limited time and adding something to your already busy schedule might make you grimace. Please try it! It’s a POWERFUL process.”
A new poem will be shared each Saturday morning for the next few months. If you would like to write and submit a poem to be shared, please contact Britta.