Friday, 1 May 2009

341 years

in honour of the appointment, after 341 years, of a female poet laureate, i give you the poet laureate of my heart: sharon olds.

The Abandoned Newborn

When they found you, you were not breathing.
It was ten degrees below freezing, and you were
wrapped only in plastic. They lifted you
up out of the litter basket, as one
lifts a baby out of the crib after nap
and they unswaddled you from the Sloan’s shopping bag.
As far as you were concerned it was all over,
you were feeling nothing, everything had stopped
some time ago,
and they bent over you and forced the short
knife-blade of breath back
down into your chest, over and
over, until you began to feel
the pain of life again. They took you
from silence and darkness right back
through birth, the gasping, the bright lights, they
achieved their miracle: on the second
day of the new year they brought you
back to being a boy whose parents
left him in a garbage can,
and everyone in the Emergency Room
wept to see your very small body
moving again. I saw you on the news,
the discs of the electrocardiogram
blazing like medals on your body, your hair
thick and ruffed as the head of a weed, your
large intelligent forehead dully
glowing in the hospital TV light, your
mouth pushed out as if you are angry, and
something on your upper lip, a
dried glaze from your nose,
and I thought how you are the most American baby,
child of all of us through your very
American parents, and through the two young medics,
Lee Merklin and Frank Jennings,
who brought you around and gave you their names,
forced you to resume the hard
American task you had laid down so young,
and though I see the broken glass on your path, the
shit, the statistics — you will be a man who
wraps his child in plastic and leaves it in the trash — I
see the light too as you saw it
forced a second time in silver ice between your lids, I am
full of joy to see your new face among us,
Lee Frank Merklin Jennings I am
standing here in dumb American praise for your life.

1 comment:

reuben said...

How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love?

r