Poems & Essays

23 Nov

One Step at a Time

Babyhood No Response

A square pulse of happiness
fluttered under the bulge of my belly.
It lasted five seconds 
before ebbing just as quickly.

Growth scans are all fine, the gynaecologist said.
I savored a moment’s relief until  
I heard rasping thoughts of panic-
My baby was taking giant leaps 
to meet me halfway 
on the road to motherhood
and here I was, exhausted with 
the effort of a few tiny steps.

Pregnancy guides in glossy covers
never found their way to my bedside table.
Looming deadlines of a busy work schedule 
spread like a black umbrella blotting out 
the pleasant morning sun, on many days.
I scoured the crevices of my cerebellum
for the faintest memories of my interaction with babies
and came up at the entrance to a black hole.
One dark night, two months after he had arrived,
my son crinkled his nose and transformed
into a lilac bawling machine.
I hummed the tune of my favorite carnatic song 
and paced the carpeted hallway 
in the soft glow of the ochre lamp
rocking him from side to side 
until he drifted asleep

A tiny flicker of hope glimmered
as my son’s fingers curled around mine.
I inhaled the first whiff of calm 
in the quiet probability that I could,  
figure out the calculus of motherhood, after all,
One step at a time.

Preeth Ganapathy is a software engineer turned civil servant. She lives in Bangalore, India. Writing has been her passion since childhood. Her works have been published or are upcoming in a number of online magazines including The Ekphrastic Review, Buddhist Poetry Review(Upcoming), Potato Soup Journal (Upcoming), Snakeskin Poetry Webzine, Voices on the Wind(Upcoming) among others. She is the winner of Wilda Morris’s July 2020 Poetry Challenge.

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