I am a mother. This new title, inextricably intertwined with my identity, has irreversibly changed me like a candlestick hours after its wick has been lit aflame. My bones have made a home in new spaces, my mind is primal, my heart is overflowing, my body is endlessly tired, and my soul will never forget the night it danced with the ancients during my initiation into motherhood. Forever transformed.
I sit on my living room floor breastfeeding my son as the sunlight moves slowly down the wall. The light graces our faces and then begins to touch Oscar’s sweet little toes. Not long after, I watch as the fading light makes its way past my typewriter that has found a dusty home in the corner of the room—a typewriter that has been idle for months on end. I named the rather adorable 1960s machine, Eva. We used to be best friends—it was me, Eva, and a bottle of Bic whiteout day in and day out.
Before I became a mother, my identity was as an artist. My maidenhood artist days held frothy Pacific Ocean waves in the viewfinder of an old 35mm camera, and then there were the days when I was found in the viewfinder. Ah, and how luxurious it was to spend hours sipping on a cup of milky oolong tea as I penned poetry that reflected my daily romance with mother nature. Those days when the hands of a ticking clock were my friends…and I didn’t even know it.
The winter light sinks further down the walls as evening approaches. These early days of motherhood, they come and go so quickly. I hold my precious son in my arms and notice his eyelids getting heavy. He slowly falls asleep and I take in his beauty: a button nose, rosy cheeks, long eye-lashes, and a bit of butternut squash plastered on his tiny chin. Words begin to form in my mind like scrabble pieces on a gameboard. I place the words in a melodic order and there it is…a poem. This new body of prose sits heavy on my mind. I want so badly to type it out but shimmying over to my typewriter would mean waking up my son—that is not an option. Our faces turn from gold to moon-grey as the sunlight kisses our home goodbye until tomorrow.
Alas, my poem, save for another day…
Because tonight, I am a mother.
A mother with a poem whirling in her mind like leftover autumn leaves caught in a December wind.
An artist with her muse fast asleep on her lap, ready to be carried up to bed.
Goodnight, my son.
Words by Alicia Henry
Photographed by Jana Cruder