Various and Sundry Poetry

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.