Sunday, March 02, 2008
Sunday Plath: Another Baby Poem
Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.
Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.
I'm no more your mother
Than the cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind's hand.
All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat's. The window square
Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons.
In her Collected Poems, this one carries the date of 19 February 1961. Her daughter Frieda was born the preceeding year on April 1st so she would have been ten months old at the time this poem was finished.
It is indeed a "song" and its lyrical qualities shine through. That central image of "a cloud that distils a mirror to reflect its own slow effacement" is just so perfect.
The final lines melodically stick a while, too: the baby's cooing and babbling a "handful of notes; The clear vowels rise like balloons." As a parent I know those wonderful sounds, though it has been some time since I last had the pleasure of hearing them.
Posted by shrimplate at 8:09 PM