I just came across this poem while cleaning out computer files. I wrote this about four years ago, when I had to have an ultrasound to determine what was going on with this month-long period I was having. I've never been pregnant, so it was my first ultrasound, and we were early in our adoption journey, so I was not entirely sure I'd ever even be a mom. (It turned out to be just a peri-menopausal anomaly.) I'm no poet, because whenever I try to write poetry, I find myself writing prose with weird line breaks instead. But for the same reason I felt compelled to attempt this poem, I kind of like the result. Here it is.
When I first realized I was an adult,
I was so pleased.
Walking down a city street in a strange land,
carrying a sack of groceries
purchased with money I’d earned myself.
A few years later, another sign.
The twelve-year old looks up trustingly from her desk
and asks me to feel her forehead
to see if she has a fever.
Becoming an adult
is what you spend childhood preparing for
(especially those of us
who spend our adolescence rolling our eyes at our classmates’ antics).
But now it seems that time
insists on carrying me along
in her relentless march.
My mother gone
too soon for her, with projects started in her studio
seeds ordered for the garden
talk of a camping trip next summer.
Too soon for me as well.
I still need her guidance.
“How do I do this?”
I want to ask
as I lay on the table while the technician
rolls a wand over my belly.
She peers at the screen, not looking for a telltale tail
but just to determine if this unending ellipses of a period
is merely my body giving up on fertility in yet another way
or the sign of something more malignant.
This ultrasound won’t become my profile picture
won’t be posted on my fridge
at best, it signals hormone therapy and hot flashes.
“How do I do this?”
I want to ask Mom,
veteran of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer.
But when I get home, feeling forlorn,
there’s no Mom to call.
So I find comfort in some chocolate
and the nook of my husband’s neck.
Younger than me, but feeling his age as well.
Twelve years without his father,
and the young bucks during harvest season reaching over to help with the heavy loads.
How do we do this? It keeps getting harder.
And our foundations have disappeared.
So we do what they did.
We lean on each other. We keep going.