A gray mid-March day:
the bare branches lean
across the blank sky.
All colors moved indoors

where my daughter and I
play with her toys
laid out on the rug:
rattles, dolls, and trucks,

nesting plastic bowls,
a flock of yellow ducks.
Shakily she stands,
her tongue darting like a snake’s

between her pink gums,
she smiles, claps her hands,
and bangs the shell table
made by Great-grandpa

of rare wormy chestnut.
Its submarine treasures
are sealed under glass.
Her palms leave sticky smears.

She reaches for my face,
her hands stroke my ears
and clasp round my neck,
her cheek against my skin.

I breathe her mild scent,
I take it all in.
My baby pulls me hard,
she is so insistent.

She turns to press
her forehead against mine,
and the world seems to shrink
as if it held just us,

a game that lovers play.
Did babies play it first?
Now in my arms she lies,
her mouth at my breast,

a soft, avid pump.
She clutches me, and then
relaxes into sleep.
Night falls. The minutes spin

away in the dark.
Now I’m forgetting this;
I must have dozed off, too.
She sucks in dreamy bliss,

as her sweat gilds my arm:
matted hair, cradled head.
Love flows in me like a
river in a muddy bed

that roars around stones
shedding mist and spray,
and swells to meet the sea,
forever carried away.

Ephemeral baby
whose growth will replace you,
shadow and memory
till time will erase you,

To show you as you were,
my quicksilver daughter,
I fix you on this page:
Claire, eight months of age.

 

www.annewhitehouse.com

Painting by Mitra Shadfar

 

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2 Responses

  1. Pamela

    This is beautiful, it is so inspiring. It reminds me when my daughter was young.

    Reply
  2. S. O'Shea

    So perfectly suspended in time; the intangible sweetness of a baby made incarnate in words.

    Reply

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