A chronological collection of writing during my son’s first fortnight of life, in Neonatal ICU.
(Note: This was written in two sleepy halves. Stanza two came after news that one of the medical interventions was being significantly reduced. The first stanza was written very slowly, through emotional treacle, during a limbo morning)
By your bedside, all the murkiness of poems written in the dark clears, to let me see my pride, and my joy, and her strength, and your life, each blinding cliché, wash away the dirt of my fears. Like grit from pebbles on gloomy beaches ahead of sunshine – son: Mine, in daybreak. Relief takes shape out of the shadows I make, made, have made and undoubtedly will make again, in the shady hours.
And then, I find I can breathe again. Read my pen: it says, ‘I can breathe’ – again: ‘I can breathe’. My pen bleeds relief in swirls of drowsy cursive, secreting unrehearsed words of… anti-grief? Relief, let’s call it. All this is important. We just talked with the doctor who recorded blips and bleeps that send me spinning. Actually grinning, we asked about her shifts. 12 on, 12 off, with other people’s kids, like ours, like you, all drips, clips, blips and peacefully closed lids.
Eventually, I realise that this carefully constructed mess of wires and increasingly familiar guests in our lives have become part of the nest, a home we never planned for. A home we hated at first, feared, recoiled from, rejected, but heeded, haltingly, and essentially, needed.