So this week, in honor of the arrival of the 6 pounds baby, 6 ounces man Beck William Westerman, my new little nephew, I read this poem in my poetry classes as we were asked to share our work from the exercise below. I hope you enjoy it. I’m happy to report that Beck is already a Functionalist, has big Westerman hands and a big Westerman nose, but big mysterious Van de Pol eyes.
Choose a topic you are interested in and make a list of at least 10 words/jargon for that topic. You can do research to come up with this list. Then write a poem using all of those words at least once.
Topic: The miracle of giving birth (my sister-in-law is due with my first niece/nephew in less than a week!).
2) Caesarean section
3) Braxton Hicks
7) Umbilical chord
This poem mixes the metaphors of “the miracle of life” with “the sink-or-swim of college.” I did a summer session last year, and it turned out to be my toughest stretch of college. All of my major friends were gone, I was burnt out on school, and sick of living in a filthy five-bedroom house. I called my mom live from the absolute-low of my college existence, and for the first time I seriously doubted my ability to get through college without having a major life-screw up. About a week later my brother called me and told me he and my sister-in-law were pregnant. I’m incredibly close with my brother (and sister-in-law, she’s really like my sister) and this is the first kid of us five siblings. They had also had trouble getting pregnant for awhile and weren’t sure if they were ever going to make it happen. So little Beck has been a miracle beyond the miracle of life. He gave me the hope to push through summer session with my head still above water. I remember when my Jer and Tara first told me the news, they said the baby was the size of a blueberry. One of my better moments in the poem was working that little detail into the framework of the piece.
I couldn’t tell you how you do it, but you did.
Swimming to a sinking me, neck deep in college, you came to life.
I was about ready to ‘kick it’ for the last time.
Treating bourbon and cigarettes like they were an epidural for real life.
It got real,
My stomach as barren as social-desert life can be.
Called mom. Told her my life’s a mirage & I’m about ready to pop.
“Honey I think you’ve just got a case of Braxton Hicks.”
She’s too sweet to say it, but I knew what she meant—
“Cut the damn Umbilical chord Char. You’re too big for me too pick you up.”
We’re here at This American Life halfway house to learn one thing:
Growing up just isn’t a miracle of life—it’s a pro’s choice.
A decision as painful as a Caesarean section…
“Well of course its gonna leave a scar dumbass, reality’s about to gut you with a knife.”
But then I heard news of you,
And put a camera to my womb
“Would ya look at that…
I think I see an undigested blueberry of hope in there.”
And so you, little hope, you grew.
And I started praying again.
And all the sudden the labor of growing didn’t hurt so bad.
Then I felt you kick.
And so, little hope, I too, started kicking again.
Got my sea legs back.
Went right up to my class, “Alright you bastard! Let’s sink-or-swim!”
As so, little hope, the battle began.
All the college and the pressure and the no getting dates.
But suddenly I didn’t mind getting circumcised on Friday nights,
by sexy plastic surgeons with pretty, dumb eyes.
I didn’t make my pupils dilate if everything wasn’t alright.
Nora you little hope you—or if you’re Beck you’ll be hope too.
You’re already a Westerman with your knack for irony—
That you, an infant, finally gave me the strength to become a man.
And yes, I cannot wait to party with you over Spring Break!
You’re favorite shot is breast milk? It’s been a long time since I’ve had one of those…