Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rain & Birth

Poem of the Day:
Lesley Wheeler's "Twilight Sleep"

Today was a strange day, its strangeness hanging on the weather. It rained all day, drizzling mostly, letting up only during the first few minutes of my run, and picking back up for the remaining half hour of my work out.

Regardless, I experienced an unanticipated calm during my run. Perhaps it was the Rachael Yamagata (sultry voice, jazzy piano) playlist that I put on, or the fact that the streets were deserted (does the rain stop even Massachusetts drivers?). Either way, I felt a strange sense of sadness mixed with renewal that was both heavy and lightening, as if to say, "The road ahead is long and difficult, but here are wings." The weather will do funny things to you.

Wheeler writes of birth, and her feelings towards birth are in tension, mirroring my own emotions during my rainy jog. In a sweeping narrative she writes of the labors of women in her family:

Some woman long ago drank caudle, laboring
in a dim room, stroked by a midwife. Forgotten.
Even my great-grandmother's suffering
was never told, save for the last birth, seventeen
years after the rest. Go to the pictures,
Father said, and the elder children grabbed
the coins and ran. They didn't know and he
was ashamed. The newborn small and powerful,
distilled from the ether, dreams, old rain.

(Notice that this stanza, in an appropriate fashion ends with the words "old rain"). The birth being described occurs in a "dim room," the father is "ashamed." Something so natural is kept hidden, despite its near heavenly result, the baby "from the ether." Wheeler describes her own arrival in the same removed tone, though with decidedly more negative diction: "Who/is that dark girl, her eyes like the first mud,/effervescing. A stranger, a to-do list" (lines 21-23).

Eventually Wheeler confronts the horror of birth, and the beginning of all things, or any thing. In my favorite stanza of the piece she writes:

Books say there are good births, but I
don't believe it. All beginnings hurt
someone: the animal, the ground. So much
to witness and all of it slipping away.

Perhaps then this explains my mixed feelings today. The washing away, the rain, unveiled my feelings about new starts: senior year, the Real World, etc. I do love beginnings. But I can't wipe away Wheeler's words: "All beginnings hurt/someone...So much/to witness and all of it slipping away."

A Poem A Day Audrey


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home