all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein

all poems and photographs
© by Maya Stein
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

the body as I am




















miraculous, really, for its penchant
for changing, one day in the mirror
greying hair, greying hair and almost 35,
one day loose-limbed and the next stiffly
arching out of sleep, hesitant out the door,
back seizing in revolt at the mere lifting
of a grocery bag, but then, another day,
light as a cream puff, nimble, lilting
toward a nephew waking from an afternoon nap,
and all is right again, aligned, exactly
as it was on day 1, that forgiveness of birth,
that perfect, articulate verging.

Waking late on a Saturday, it is hard to say
what keeps me in bed later still, through coffee
and toast, through the last chapter of a mediocre book,
through a phone call, through a morning that began
with sunshine, silence, the launching pad
of a morning like that, and still
I kept the ship docked,
inert, swaddled in blankets, not wanting to rise
and face...what, exactly, I'm not sure -
the bad surprise of an aching hip? dry patches
on my foreheard? something faltering, failing indiscriminately
without so much as a warning?

What I really want to tell you is the dream
I had last night, me in a strange city,
holding a strange child with bright red hair,
not mine, not mine, and yet I wanted her
so badly to be mine, or something like her
I clutched at this small person
and wished for my own, ached for motherhood,
some definitive graduation into age, maturity,
the rewards of passing through this and this test,
I cried for something I hadn't yet made,
I was a rage of regret, a kind of derelict impotence
borne of waiting too long, letting time go by
in the way it always did - quickly, irreverently -
and not remembering to take advantage of what
had been given to me since birth -
the right equipment to forecast other births,
the goods to make good.

It was hard, waking, to remember myself, the body
as I am, each inquisitive stretch of an elbow,
the hope of my shoulders, the give
of buttocks, the flex of my long and bony feet,
and I was sorry only for every ache of time
lodging its complaints in the mirror,
those creaking evidences I found daily
in the folds of my skin, the rumple of my hair.

I didn't recognize the morning for what
it was, the rise out of darkness,
the innocence I cradle daily
in my arms, my whole life pulsing before me,
and sliding, like some nascent thing, into
the next improbable molting,
carrying all that history still to come.

3 comments:

Marilyn said...

Oh, Maya. DAMN. Although I was engaged all along, you really nailed me with that last verse.

Snowsparkle said...

how can you reinvent the extraordinary with each new piece? shaking my head at the beauty in these words, this photo. thank you!

Popeye said...

I'm really liking your blog more and more. . .