Don't you know that you are
as a child to me?
When I scold you with
the sharpness of labor pains,
my hard-edged caresses
folding over your fears upon these sheets,
canceling daylight with the
thought of dark warmth--
I am pleading inside:
I am the first-time mother
who tries too hard to flood your life,
to draw you into my skin each night
and flush you out anew each dawn.
Soft, you are soft,
floating away from me through time.
I ought to be the Amazon queen who
eats her young; then I could
keep you inside me,
rolling you `round the back of my mouth
slowly, like a thought.
I burn red-hot to see you
draw close to another,
one who will not lose you in her darkness.
But I know darkness created the light
before you and I gave birth to one another,
and darkness will again swallow us.
Although your after-birth rots in my memory still,
I will carry you in dreams--
through wars and adolescence,
and your marriage to another.
I was born to bear this sorrow,
and I will continue to pain every year;
as long as it takes your place,
as long as this mother of a dead son still loves inside.