Saturday, March 19, 2011

Birth

Claribel was born on the 18th of March at nine past midnight. We went into the hospital at 2:30 in the afternoon on the 17th—St. Patrick’s Day—and Georgia did an amazing job of delivering her baby. They came home from the hospital yesterday afternoon.


I went out jogging in the early in the evening yesterday; I followed the coastal trail out over the trestle, past a row of small hotels. The sky was a soft pink haze, the fog had come in and the chill was just barely tolerable because I was underdressed. But, the beauty of the coast, the massive waves throwing white foam an unfathomable distance, rolling up and beating down, kept me going. The fog hung over the wooded hills in the distance towards which I ran, and the wet grass of the bluffs had a dark forest green color, splashed with red and gold. I stopped and followed a watery path out over the bluffs. High on a craggy slope of land over the sea, two geese squawked. I stood in the chill and watched the massive waves rush. The sky was a soft flow of color and the cold had a numbness to it, a chill that makes you feel the warmth of your own body, the heave of your lungs as you run hard and fast, as sweat moistens the skin only a little and you press your lips open to breathe in the cool air. I stood on the bluffs looking out over the ocean, looking down along the coast, looking up in the sky where birds skid and dip. I watched a bird flap in the wind without moving forward; it hovered, then dipped, hovered, then dipped.

Into the night little Claribel cried. We drove out in the dark around eleven to get her to sleep, which didn’t really work. Then her mama rocked her and let her suckle—which she’s very good at—until they fell asleep together.

I am still in awe of all of this. How odd that we grow babies in us like that. How amazing to see Claribel squirm out into the world of light. Caught by the two hands of the doctor, she cried. Her umbilical cord was twisty a little like the old phone cords and the doctor took Georgia’s free hand and told her to feel the baby’s heart beat by holding the cord. They waited a bit before her grandma cut her free. I can’t help thinking of a poem from The Book of Nightmares, by Galway Kinnell, called “Under the Maud Moon.”


4
It is all over,
little one, the flipping
and overleaping, the watery
somersaulting alone in the oneness
under the hill, under
the old, lonely bellybutton
pushing forth again
in remembrance,
the drifting there furled in the dark,
pressing a knee or elbow
along a slippery wall, sculpting
the world with each thrash-the stream
of omphalos blood humming all about you.

5
Her head
enters the headhold
which starts sucking her forth: being itself
closes down all over her, gives her
into the shuddering
grip of departure, the slow,
agonized clenches making
the last molds of her life in the dark.


6
The black eye
opens, the pupil
droozed with black hairs
stops, the chakra
on top of the brain throbs a long moment in world light
and she skids out on her face into light,
this peck
of stunned flesh
clotted with celestial cheesiness, glowing with the astral violet
of the underlife. And as they cut

her tie to the darkness
she dies
a moment, turns blue as a coal,
the limbs shaking
as the memories rush out of them. When

they hang her up
by the feet, she sucks
air, screams
her first song – and turns rose,
the slow,
beating, featherless arms
already clutching at the emptiness.


Of course, Kinnell’s somber take on his experience with birth isn’t mine, or I suspect, Georgia’s. Though, he captures the surreal nature of the experience in depicting a sense of sub-worldliness or of crossing-over. I remember now someone saying, “she’ll bring some balance from the other side,” and I think this about babies, about birth, they bring something with them from the other side that we say, with time, dissipates and is all but lost except what lasts in our conceptions of the soul.

Everyone so tired now, particularly her mama; perhaps Sally and I are tired from watching the two of them get tired because we haven’t done much to help. Not that Mama would allow us to, being she is so in love.

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