Friday, December 16, 2005


I just received a greeting card that says "All I want for Christmas is a nap." Boy can I relate to that! But I remember a Christmas when all I wanted was to pee on a stick and see two blue lines. Here is a poem (a sestina!) about what followed.

For My Firstborn

You were conceived under an orange moon,
my skirt hiked up, his hair in my fingers.
When I told him I’d soon be a mother,
he just chuckled, said that wasn’t so hard.
I dreamed of you nights, swimming in water,
eyes just like your father’s, electric blue.

Soon veins streaked my belly, a map of blue,
my breasts hung heavier than two full moons.
Your father would fill the tub with water,
play you like a cello with his fingers.
My skin stretched tight, became a drum beat hard
soft soft hard. Your toes and elbows. Mother-

love flowed through songs I learned from my mother,
who said to fight labor with thoughts of blue
waves, to howl and breathe through it, the hardest
work you’ll ever do. I‘d lasso that moon,
I glowed with the challenge, swollen fingers
and stretch marks at home as boats on water.

Past due, still no sign of breaking water,
doctor said, come, I’ll make you a mother.
I said thirteen prayers and crossed my fingers,
couldn’t wait to meet our Little Boy Blue.
Nursery waiting with painted stars and moon,
we never knew waiting would be so hard.

In the hospital contractions got hard,
then out you rushed in a gush of water.
We cried and whispered our thanks to the moon,
I felt I’d been born to be your mother.
Your father gave out cigars wrapped in blue,
I watched you sleep, fist gripping my finger,

stroked your cheek with the tip of my finger.
Lovely, but still, saying goodbye is hard;
empty womb cramped – hello, post-partum blues.
Now for the message penned in blood, not water:
from the start I’ve loved being your mother,
I shine with your light like a hungry moon.

Your fingers quench thirsts unknown to water,
hard journey is done, now rest with your mother--
I’ll give you blue milk and show you the moon.

-Irene Latham


Blogger Rae Pater said...

wow, a sestina! you're brave!
It reads really nice too. I was almost to the end before I realised it was a form. Always a good sign! (I never read intros to poems, lolol.
I'm not sure if the end is quite right? I think it's supposed to contain all of your end words in it isn't it? At least the form I read did. But maybe I missed something?
Nice write though.

5:30 AM, December 19, 2005  
Blogger J.B. Rowell said...

Good Ole Wikipedia:

"The six words are then included within the lines of the concluding triplet (also called the envoy or tornada), again in a prescribed order: the first line containing 2 & 5, the second line containing 4 & 3, and the final line containing 1 & 6."

Very impressive Irene!

9:43 AM, December 19, 2005  

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