It’s late at night, and I should be sleeping…. but I have been tweaking a poem that I started two days ago. It’s about motherhood, among other things, and I keep thinking about a conversation I had with a mom at school today. We’d never met, and I asked her “what do you do?” (a dangerously loaded question on the schoolyard) and she said “I’m just a mom.” How often have I said that myself ‘just a mom’ – with that exact self-deprecating shrug and smile. When really, producing a baby is like pure magic – the ultimate act of creativity – and to be a good mother requires bringing that level of creativity to work day in and day out, 24/7/365. …no matter what crazy turns the day brings. So here it is..and there’s a wire sculpture in the works to go with it….pictures to follow when it’s complete.
I remember the day I removed his training wheels.
I ran behind the bike, steadying him,
before letting go with a final forward push.
he wobbled wildly, until he found his balance
and could steady himself –
he discovered his center of gravity, and mine shifted again…
just yesterday he was inside me, a seed, ripening
heavy-melon lushness arching my spine, widening my pelvis
into the mama waddle of weight and counter-weight.
Another dancer calls me ‘spin-crazy.’
I can’t get enough of it. Something in me
needs this release, this twirling blur, this dizzy rush, this dance
with my own child self. They’ve taken the carousels out of the playgrounds,
but a consenting adult can fall at her own risk.
I have never been one for small steady steps.
Where does balance begin?
in the bony labyrinth of the inner ear, the vestibular realm –
just past the hollow snail-shell spiral of the cochlea,
there are triple loops,
canals containing fluid which moves
with us… each cartwheel, pirouette, tumble
translates fluid pressure
into electric signals
communicating first with our eyes, showing us where we stand
before informing our muscles how to keep us upright.
(I remember the last ear infection, the pressure of his pain
spiraling me into another sleepless night, until the eardrum ruptured
in a rush of pus and blood, and our tears subsided)
Vertigo occurs when tiny crystals in the cochlea lose their way.
Dislodged into the canals, they impede the easy flow of liquid, deceiving us,
making us believe that we are spinning
when in fact we are standing still
or sitting serenely in lotus position
and the only thing turning is the earth herself
This balancing act, this dance of life, requires practice
the years spin away from the center, stars in an infinitely-expanding universe
leaving me longing for the black Velcro wall of the Gravitron to contain me
Back on the dance floor I twist around the perimeter,
a rotating column of air and energy and accumulated debris
(for a vortex to be classified as a tornado, it must be in contact
with both the ground and the cloud base)
pulling seeking gathering releasing
converting rotational energy into forward motion,
until landfall seems imminent. I stop,
plant my bare feet strong against the wood planks
like a seasoned sailor riding the waves of a hurricane,
laughing, I break through the storm wall and it dissipates
into the calm eyes at the center.
–Susan Bernardo, 5.1.2011