by Joan A. Monheit
I hold you the way you like—suspended,
my hand beneath your tummy, your face
turned out, eyes wide open. Sing you
an Eric Clapton song, then a Yiddish lullaby.
I'm in love with your ears—tiny abalone shells.
Creamy mocha skin, curly dark hair
that may turn red like your mother's,
delicate, broad nose. You're learning
to inhabit your body—gurgles of gas in your belly,
sneezes that startle, hiccups you don't know
how to stop. When you stretch into a yawn,
your whole body shudders, then you sigh—
your first melody, wordless, a niggun,
calling to the Divine. Sometimes you wail,
flail—discordant riffs. I think you must miss
what we all miss when our bodies come
into the world: the loss of the Shechinah's
soothing womb song. Skin to skin
is the best you'll get now. Your cheek
on my arm, curl of your fist around my finger.
*Shechinah is the Hebrew feminine aspect of God
Joan A. Monheit is a psychotherapist in Berkeley, CA, where she facilitates
Writing Through Grief and Healing Through Writing groups and workshops.
Her poems have appeared in publications including ZYZZYVA, Calyx, and Santa Clara Review. She can be reached at email@example.com.