Poetry for Pregnancy

David Orr wrote an article over at NPR.org that caught my eye. Titled “It’s A Genre! The Overdue Poetry of Parenthood,” the piece showed how there hasn’t been much poetry written on the profound miracle of the conception, development, and delivery of human babies. He referenced a poem by Paul Muldoon called “Sonogram” which I read and frankly didn’t get. His ventured too far from “Roses are red, violets are blue” for me to follow. Orr’s plea for more poetry on the subject and my inability to grasp Muldoon’s verse inspired me to give it a shot.

I’ve written a few poems I’m proud of: The Road He Travels, I’m Like Nate, Why; but I wanted to do work within the discipline of poetry. Historically, poetry uses rhythm, stanzas, meter, and syllable counts as the framework for the poets to make beautiful. Modern poets deviate from the ancient forms, as I did for my other works, but I wanted to attempt working within a frame. Initially, I chose Trochaic Octameter which is the form that holds Poe’s “The Raven.” I studied the form for a while and realized my grasp of our language’s nuance was insufficient to master this style, so I decided to craft my own. The style will remain nameless, but I’ll explain my intent.

The poem’s about the development of a baby and the excitement of his arrival so I used the gestation process as the frame for my words. There are three, thirteen line stanzas representing the three, thirteen week trimesters of a pregnancy. Each line has seven syllables to represent the seven days in a week. There is one final, one line stanza to close the poem to represent the fortieth and final week of a pregnancy. The lines state a fact about the baby’s development for that week of the pregnancy. Far from a Limerick, but it made me stick to something. So here it is, my first pregnancy poem.

Wonderfully Made

Two become one. Miracle.
Boy or girl? Already known.
Secure in my nine month home.
Fearfully knit together.
Thump-thump, lub-dub. Heart beating.
Lenses have formed on my eyes.
I’m starting to get fingers.
They’re webbed, but I have my toes.
Drink milk; my teeth are growing.
Fetus – Latin for offspring.
Organs formed. Heart is racing.
Two inches tall. Half an ounce.
Eyes and ears almost in place.

All a flutter? That’s just me.
I have unique finger prints.
Inhale and Exhale – Breathing.
Cartilage turning to bone.
Vocal chords formed, just need air.
If I’m a boy, you could tell.
Halfway there; keep it up, mom!
My tongue is finished; eat cake.
Eyelids and eyebrows. One pound.
I can hear you; sing to me.
If I came, I could make it.
This week I could hold your hand.
Open. Closed. Now I can blink.

Rods and cones. Retinas formed.
Eyes are complete; I can see!
Rub soft, I understand pain.
Don’t be sad, but I can cry.
Forming billions of nerve cells.
Sight, touch, taste, smell, hear – All done.
My baby nails might scratch me.
Sleeping pattern established.
Over five pounds. Getting tight.
I’m in the birth position.
Any day now; I’m ‘at term.’
My skin is becoming smooth.
Don’t be fooled by Braxton Hicks.

Two became one. Miracle.

This is our fourth son on June 2, 2009 – just one day old. Number five will be here in the next couple weeks.

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