Poems & Essays

21 Aug

Wild and Weightless

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My mom, who loves to garden, had three of her babies in the heat of the summer. The months of those years, when both the land and her belly was full and ripe, did not mix well with each other. She talks about the marigolds she planted those years—flowers that can withstand neglect and the scorch of the sun. My sisters and I were all born in the marigold season—into the warm dirt of the earth that grows, for a short season, against gravity—pushing up flashes of color and delicate petal that tell the air to make room.

Last summer, my garden grew wild, so that finding a harvest beneath the vines and thick leaves became a treasure hunt. I understood my mother then, because I was too tired to plant even marigolds over the thick curve of my budding stomach. This summer, my garden is tame and tall and it is my daughter who is wild—who cannot be still, who must reach for everything, who laughs and cackles and bangs and rolls, who wears every emotion like colors of the rainbow and shares each of them with us daily. She is a flash of orange shooting up toward the sun, and as we work in the garden— me digging up weeds and she trying to eat them— I pray this wildness will never, never be tamed.

The wildness and weightlessness have surprised me most about motherhood. I see it again when we are at the swings, while her plush white skin presses against black rubber and she looks at me with eyes that have swallowed the sky. Her fingers grip the sun-warmed metal, and she squeals every time the swing falls back toward me. Her entire consciousness is wrapped up in the moment— in the suspension between the ground and the air.

I wonder then which way life works—is it me who will teach her weight, or is it June who will teach me flight?

We named our daughter for the month of fullness and abundance—for the lavender that has taken over our garden, the twenty four tomato plants Andrew bought this year that have turned overnight to a fire-engine red. We named her for the watermelon that has stained her bib and run down her arms, that has spread a sweet, sticky smile across her face. We named her for endless evenings on the porch with fireflies for lights, for early mornings and eggs with fresh herbs, for a to-do list that stretches no farther than the beach and its steady waves. The month of June felt like our insides were finally turned outside, and the joy we’ve experienced in winter months are exploding all around us in full bright blooms.

My weightless baby fell asleep on my chest last night without a thought about how she would get back into bed, without a question about who would tuck her in and get her up in the morning. It’s so rare for her to fall asleep on me now that I could not put her down, and I realized then that she is weightless because I carry all her weight in my hands—that she is wild and playful and without a care because I am safekeeping them—and already, I dread the day that I will have to give them back. I breathe in the scent of her lavender shampoo, feel her warm breath on my chest, her hands, which are doing so much these days, curled up and pressed under her chubby cheeks. She sleeps so peacefully. She is weightless. Be my baby just a little while longer.

All my flowers are shooting and sprouting up, lighter than air, limited only by the strength of their roots. My daughter, too, lives like a bird in flight, caught in that free fall moment of the swing, her smile wide and her laugh wild and my world is full of color.

I did not know my daughter and the earth would have so much in common with each other.

 

 

Rachael Dymski has an MFA from Chatham University. Her work has been published in The Burg, Relevant Magazine, Gris Ventre, and other places. She became a mother eight months ago and has been trying to put the experience into words since then.

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