at first you were a butterfly, wings coated with dust i dare not handle too roughly. the safety and endless hug of my belly was all you’d ever known before being pushed into blinding light, skin-prickling cold and loud noises far removed from the reassuring thud of my heart. i kept you close and sang my love but my heart broke to imagine your fright, the unfamiliarity.
‘what happened to my red, warm home?’
where mine and papa’s voices swam around, softened by the sea-sound whooshing of blood, where you slept as cosy as could be while i moved about the world.
do babies mourn leaving the womb? is this why sometimes we can’t soothe their cries? as we bathe deep in warm water i curl you up over my empty stomach and i cry that it will never be your home again. that i can never again feel your kicks from the inside or give birth to you. i am cursed to constantly mourn over life passing, cursed to try in vain to capture it all (on film, in words, in images) before it slips away clumsily between my fingers like dirt. here i show you my filthy hands, i have marks of these memories, but i will never live them again.
little baby bird with featherless wings, i want you always at my breast, where i know you feel safest. my white blood, my life-light flowing into you. i can’t let go of my breath until i hear you let go of yours. i know your death would be the death of me.
when you lived inside me (first in my dreams, then in my belly) i always thought you’d be us. a little us. but you are not us, you are a person unlike any that has come before you. your eyes are already bright with all the wisdom you will collect, all the lives you will touch, all the happiness you will share. you are strong-willed, unwaivering, a girl of her own thought. we see this in you already, like it is written.
i know you don’t yet understand the concept of me existing when you cannot see me. this is why i can’t bear the thought of you believing you’re all alone in this confusing, unfamiliar world. there will be time for you to be alone when you know i will be there to come back for you, but for now i will be beside you always. in the dead, dark quiet of night you will wake to the smell of my milk and skin, my warmth and my breathing.
your dear papa regards you as the most precious and fantastic thing in the universe. from the moment i pulled you from the water and he wept with love at the sight of you i knew you were just as much his as you are mine. you nap on his chest every afternoon now, your papa rocking you and professing his love as he often does. you are both intertwined, like trees and breath.
you grow like a moonflower unfurling. you find your voice, sweeter than honey and you laugh loud with the same fire that burns in my own soul. you have a wildness that society has tamed in me, a wildness i’m always yearning to get back. through you i will relive all of the feelings i thought i had lost with the passing of childhood. i will feel your every bliss and broken heart with you.
your hands curl softly shut beside your sleeping face. as i lay my hand over your little fist it opens itself like a flower and a moment later i feel it closing tightly over my fingers. holding onto my hand you breathe more gently, as though you feel safe knowing i am there. my heart glows warm. i am your mama for always, little alba.