In honor of Mother’s Day – which this Sunday – we asked Las Vegas writer, Jennifer Battisti to read a poem about her own jump into motherhood.
Her poem is “The First Week.”
The First Week
The white orchids came two days before you did.
Balled up into four milky fists, suspended from the green branch
beside the bed, they hung like a primitive solitude.
The first bloomed while we were at the hospital;
its quiet rupture split stalks into a fit of pearly limbs.
The gummy petals arched out saluting your homecoming.
I latched and re-latched your searching mouth to my clumsy breast.
And as the night curled up and spooned the awaiting dawn
another sprout shot open while you slept upon my weepy chest like a teacup on its saucer.
Engorged with milk and fear, I offered my bosom like a ham sandwich;
spun you around into the many different positions the book illustrated.
The last two buds held tight in their clammy homes refusing, it seemed, to budge.
I lathered on the nipple balm and cursed the hippies that said this would come naturally.
In the quietest part of the night , sleep and hope had left like dejected houseguests.
The largest flower unfurled,
first like a claw, then by morning into a silky kiss on a vine.
I brought you to bed with me, our skin bare and breathing unanimous
and slept for the first time.
woke to find you nursing as if we were old pros.
I felt the deep pull of motherhood.
The glorious becoming by a ferocious undoing.
By sunrise the last bloom had opened and was reclining toward the window,
and the first bud already shedding gauzy petals
On to the table.
Jennifer Battisti, poet