“THIS IS MY BODY” • POEMS BY POSTPARTUM MOTHERS • #1

This is my hair, my sword and shield, sickle and wheat. Now reborn a lifeline, rope swing, a kite string that tethers tiny hands to a grounded ship. A lighting rod in the sand, an anchor.

photo by Ally Zonsius of Knocked Up Birth Services

These are my shoulders, boulders and landslide alike, knotted with the ropey lines of the Future, missteps, catastrophe, death, of small and frightful whispers in the night. The machines that lift joy into the air as bright as the sun, laughter widening the breath of the room. Hiked up at once with the gravity of worry and the privilege of bliss.

These are my breasts, once empty but yet too round, too low, too much. Reliably inescapable, they blushed with the punchline of avoidance. Now they are burning and rife with nourishment, heavy against my ribcage, an overflowing river for a tiny, wild mouth, hungry for the world, humming along the button of a nipple. They have been sung into life.

These are my hands, long like yours, long like my mother’s, fine-combed lifelines and blue river veins. Tools of a soft trade. A patchwork quilt of a before and an after, pillowing feather-soft hair and catching sinews of drool with steel string calloused fingertips, busy like birds.

This is my belly, my forever-shadow. Once hidden and purposeless, it became resolute, bursting with intent, convex and smooth and brooding with the weight of an ocean. Now a bundle of ribbons, rippled, an aching emptiness that is still too full, bound and bound again, soft and drunk on an unbearable lightness.

These are my hips, ajar and widened like a jaw, bones bruised against the bed, steering the ship while sinking beneath the daily ritual. The battered fulcrum, the broad base of a sleepy, hiccuping metronome.

This is my vagina, split open like the earth, like the bright moon pinned so low in the sky, a tree branch bowing, heavy laden with fruit. This is the alchemy and miracle, the invisible freight train of strength, the pliant and supple center of power. Laying dormant, on hiatus, hibernating through this season. The scarred, the cloaked, the hidden away and quiet queen.

This is my heart, a drum machine birthed from my body, a tiny hummingbird feeding on the sage in the backyard.

Written by Anna V.
Shared with permission

~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.

About the author: Dr. Britta Bushnell is a writer, teacher, storyteller, and mentor who blends her eclectic training, years of experience, and areas of study into a unique offering for individuals, couples, professionals, and groups. Britta is currently deep at work writing her forthcoming book, Transformed by Birth: Illuminating cultural ideals to enhance the experience of childbirth.

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