Meeting Keza

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Salmans Four

Waiting For My Adopted Daughter


` ‘The moment a child is born,
the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed, but the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.’


If I am new
as the next breath
or beat of blood,
if I am standing on the precipice,
toes curled around the edges,
flesh pricked and crawling
the ream of wind,
if I press against a
fetid shell, the cracked casing
that has been my home,
if I shrug it off and
abandon it, if I never look back
on my life as it were,
will you come

speak to her body in low tones,
ask her to open as my arms,
that are heavy with weighted air,
would she give her body up,
stretched, swollen temple of my child,
press you, a flattened flower
from the bed of her belly,
wash you with the slick salt of tears, would she
release you to the world,
a new song who clings
to my lips, and then lifts,
gently in prayer.

‘The moment a child is born,
the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed, but the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.’


to picture her as an orphan
folded into a corner of the home
of hope, where children are gumming the lead
from painted cribs, padding shoeless through halls

like thoughts that are born and then slip,
as if they had never existed,
through narrow slots in the mind.
to see you,

with your beautiful, round bloom,
pushed out like an Aster Moon,
smooth black skin stretched
and floating, like lilies, on the lake of womb.

I feel as the other, the anti-, the crawl
of fear across the ribs before a stranger
appears in shadow. A thief with small
hands that are always swiftly signing

even after you have lain down and shaken
the house with your screams.
your eyes darting like a cornered animal,
skin glossed and dripping,

breath caged in the drum of your chest,
the bearing down of,
the moment when finally
the body opens and empties.

you will see her, this creature that is you
and is your body, and is new as the hollowed
case of your body, and you will say to her,
how can I ever give my body away?

Rwandan Daughter

before small lungs swelled
with warm vanilla air
before the flutter of thin eyelids

and the waking of a soul
before the cord and root
and toes uncurling from feet

unfolding from limbs
tucked under a girl
in a shadow world of cells combining, dividing

before the xx chromosome
before her father
before her mother

in the underbrush of a heart
where hope grows in wildflowers
over the rugged expanse

of dreams and dares
in the place where God whispers
you were born

i wrapped you in the colors
of your country
held you to the drum of my heart

promised that someday i would find
you tucked in the folds of time
waiting to settle

the landscape
of open
empty arms

Baby Jubilee

I don't know who she is. I can't feel her growing, a little promise, inside me. I can't watch my belly fill and expand. I won't feel her hands or feet press against the uterus wall. But she is mine. She is almost filling the open space of my arms.

I've had two boys and relished carrying them in the bed of my belly. I loved the weight of them. I was amazed at my body that was always re-shaping, contorting itself, pulling up, pressing out, hemming those two creatures in, protecting.

This little girl is tens of thousands of miles away. She might be laying in a crib somewhere. She might still be cradled in the belly of another woman. Still, I feel no less pregnant than with my first two children. If anything, I am more stretched, uncomfortable and anxious than I ever was before. Time has stacked one month upon another and we are standing over a year and a half, with only a glimmer of the end in sight.

Something was in me, even as a girl, something filled with hope and adventure. I always had an international heart, was always dreaming of God in empty spaces. The first time I set foot in an orphanage I was fifteen year old. My heart still expands, like breath caught in the lungs, when I remember those round Guatemalan eyes. There were so many. I vowed that someday I would find a motherless child, I would wrap my arms around them and call them my own. It's been 12 years and that something is still in me. An ache for a child that I know is mine. I have dreamed of her, wanted her, prayed for her, loved her.

Her name is Jubilee. And someday soon, I will hold her in the crook of my arm and actually feel her. I'll touch her skin, look into her eyes, smell the scent of her, feel her breath on my neck. I will think about how long I've waited. I will thank God for planting her in depths of my heart before I even thought of her. I will know that she is prayer spoken and answered.

And I will celebrate.