Koan-like Questions of a Mother to her Unborn Child
by Ruth Mowry
Is there something quieter than sleep?
My whispers circle you like jasmine vine, the way
my arms want to, when my palm will cup your head,
my thumb in the shallow petal of your temple.
Where is the pocket in the nightshirt of early morning?
You didn’t notice just now that I turned over in bed, rolling
first onto my right side, then onto my left.
Leaves everywhere on blue-white cotton.
What shape are you?
In my teardrop body you sleep, sucking your thumb —
puzzle piece in the circle of your mouth.
Paisley baby, paisley thumb,
paisley me, paisley breast. Lace.
What is grace?
I pull myself up, like a camel, into a sitting position,
lean left, push off, grunt, rise, stand, and low into the sway
of this me, your cradle, creaking at my hips.
Do you remember it, that hymn from the old church
through the window as we slowly climbed the stair?
Holding the bedpost, carved like an altar,
my eyes closed, up from the organ
in my chest the music — unnamed song
through the vibrating reed of my watery throat.
Stained glass moon. Bosphorus.
Can you see me in the dark?
My hand rests on the olive of your shoulder,
or is that a heel? Hush, keep sleeping, don’t worry
about positions. You are touching everything
in any case.
Mountain magnolia blossom.