Poems & Essays

30 Oct

First Illness

General/Column 2 Responses

This fervent walk
might do us good,
get us away from the fever
of syringe, thermometer, vaporizer,
and serve as my own unwritten prescription
to ease your stifled cure.

I sing through my nerves,
transferring you from car seat to chest pack,
strained lyrics from an enduring lullaby
about longing and loss—fighting
the urge to think the worst.

Slowly, minding every stone and slippery leaf,
I draw you in, finding even footing only
when your brow meets my chin,
and our chests are pressed,
alternating beats of our hearts.

I begin pointing out the prompts
of buds—tiny hands, palms clasped, fingers
poised in a faint green prayer, a scrape
of bark, the rustle of eager squirrels,
a brook spurting its first words,
an arched twig pointing a
crooked way—and then!
one curved twig entwining
with another, nearly braided together,
purely and securely bundled—
tight and frayed with weed—
an entire nest—
nestled and camouflaged—
just a glint of shell at first—and then!
the dappled and blue moody eggs, contoured, whole,
side by each, complete, like fragile promises
smoothing my worry—and then!

I am taken, like a bright page from
a worn storybook, entirely aback by
the vibrant flutter, warm and ruddy,
her beak and wing and claw rising
and descending and rising again—
it is a robin redbreast—

her black eye glossy and piercing
and quick and assured, fierce
in her mission of guarding
this that is her season—
bringing in the spring.

You murmur and curl in
to me as I follow her—
pride and breast expanding,
pumping, rising,
emerging skyward,
alighting the top of my head—

my own breath taking flight,
lifting my face, straightening
my neck, pushing my shoulders even—
my arms dropping back and up,
breathing in and exhaling again,
the relief of it, primal, bracing me—

this is how we do it, naturally!
by wrapping, and warming, and rousing, and shielding, and soaring—
nurturing our young through the scourge
of winter, the thorn, the bramble,
from bud to branch to breeze to sky—

clearing in a reflection of myself with you—
my “frost blossom baby”
eternally renewing me

this is where I find it— your recovery, imminent.


Megeen Mulholland received her PhD from the University at Albany, and she is a graduate of the Master of Arts program in English and Creative Writing at Binghamton University. She teaches writing at Hudson Valley Community College where she serves on the Visiting Writers Committee; on this committee, she recently hosted a poetry reading and engaged in a video-streamed discussion with former Poet Laureate, Billy Collins. Among other literary magazines and anthologies, her work has been published in Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined; Roots and Flowers: Poets and Poems on Family, Adanna Literary Journal; and Modern Language Studies. All of these accomplishments pale in comparison to motherhood.

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  1. sara

    November 2, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    i love the resilience this poem expresses as the mother finds strength and confidence parenting her ill child through aligning her spirit with the patterns and ways of Nature. Snuggling her infant, she experiences awe and transformation “finding even footing” as, fearing for her child’s health, she “fights the urge to fear the worst.” i think it’s a wondrous poem.

  2. Megeen

    November 6, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you so much! I appreciate your insights and kind words.


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