He Feeds Her

He loves his babies. Always has. His hands perfect for holding small heads. His long flat chest a place to rest and hear the thump-tha- thump just like it was in mommy’s tummy.

I hated breastfeeding. Never enough milk. What did come was so often vomited back onto those bags I lugged heavily on my frame. She’d scream with acid pain and empty belly.

He’d soothe her patiently.  Rocking, and shushing and swaying. Cooing, and patting, and humming.  Loving her with every inch of himself.  She’d sleep fitfully. Reluctantly convinced into rest.

Midnight feedings were hazy nightmares. He wanted to help.  But the best milk was in me.

Breast is best. Breast is best.  Breasts are beasts. Breasts are beasts.

After each feeding, I’d wake him, saying, “Take her.  I can’t do this anymore.”  He’d rouse himself. Sweep her up in the darkness. Pour sweet nectar into her ears.

Delirium twisted mother’s milk into mother’s bane.  But the shame, the shame seemed worse than this.  The shame and the failure:

A stay-at-home mom who does not breast feed.

Unspoken damnation whispered into my mind’s eye. “You’re a bad mother. Selfish. Weak. She will suffer forever. It’s all your fault.”

He said, “You don’t have to. It’s OK.  Don’t listen. I love you. You’re good. You’re good.”

No. You’re good. I am bad.

He said, “I want to help. Let me help. Let me feed her. You can rest. You can sleep. No more pumping. No more soreness. Let me help.”

Every day for months, we three danced this way.  And I felt myself pushing away from the child so waited for. Now, so hungry, always so hungry.

And me with nothing left to give.

So I let him help.  Knowing I was bad. She would suffer. He would leave me.  All good things, as they say, would come to an end.

But instead.

When the clock struck 10 I’d be fast asleep. A night-owl, he stayed up for the midnight feed.  And I, the early bird, took the 4 am, happy to be with my girl.

So rested, body mine, no pumping, no resentment.  Just the everyday trials of new parenthood – shared equally by two.

My burden had lifted.  And his was increased? Would his baby love stay so strong in the face of the feeds?

When I asked,  he said, “You don’t understand. You have given me a gift.”

“I hold her in my arms, bottle in hand, and she looks at me.  I see in her eyes something different, something new, something real.”

“‘You feed me.’ she says, without words.”

“I am her father, and I feed her. Don’t you see? We men are not supposed to feed. But I want to feed her. I need to feed her.”

He feeds her. To this day, he feeds her.  And she knows it.

And we are all free.

 

 

 

Between the Bridges

I live between Walt Whitman and Ben Franklin.

Bridges between old world, and new.

between keystone and garden,

between river sharks and eagles,

between blight, and revitalization. 

 

They came after the ferries, but before the regional rail. 

These bridges that sing summer songs to city souls.

These bridges that bring berries and workers.

These bridges of commerce, and adventure, and lights.

These bridges that breathe life into and out of my home.

 

One writes the leaves of grass. 

The other reaches for lightening. 

And I live in between. 

 

Between the times. 

Between the states. 

Solid running over liquid.

 

We live between the bridges.

Walt Whitman,

Ben Franklin,

and me. 

My Song

This is not  a song for you.

I sing for you all the time.

Praises. Silly phrases.

Anything in rhyme.

 

But this verse has no purpose,

no reason to be.

This is not a lullaby.

I just wrote it for me.

 

This is not a chant for justice.

This is not a call for peace.

No demands, or reprimands.

Tonight nothing has to cease.

 

Tonight I am the only one,

who needs to hear the song.

This is not a chant for justice.

You don’t have to sing a along.

 

This is not a love song.

You know I love you so.

Heart’s desire, lit my fire

so many years ago.

 

Maybe I’l let you hear the tune.

But the words belong to me.

This is not a love song.

And this is not a chant for justice.

Oh and this is not a lullaby.

I just wrote it for me.