My daughter is three months old today. In honor of that, here's a slam poem I wrote back when she was still in utero, and when we called her (gender unknown) Nibbler. It is not as polished as I would like, but one of the things I'm working on this year is sharing my work as it is rather than waiting (until that sunny, uncluttered, un-busy day that will never come) for it to be "finished."
A Letter to Nibbler
One—you are already the center of my universe,
Which, for what it’s worth, is really a pretty big place
‘Cause you see, I’ve been around for a long time now
before you got here. And that has given me a chance to see
both literally and figuratively, what the world is like.
That’s the benefit of waiting, you see,
I’ve had a chance to be me.
I’ve grown comfortable in my own skin,
I’ve settled all the way in. I’ve found a way to make room
In my world for you.
Two—you are so very loved. Little did I know
How far the love would go. So quickly and so fierce.
Like moths attracted to flames, people gravitate toward new life.
They are all waiting for you to arrive.
Hearts of stone you already seem to pierce—people who
Hardly care about me suddenly and deeply love you.
How could you know how much the world awaits your arrival?
Three—Even once you’re here, I’ll still be me. In a way it will take you
Most of your childhood to see, I’ll still be a whole person. Unique.
Free. Separate from you, existing long before you got here,
Growing on my own long after you arrive. One day you’ll see
That your mom is still free to be a person entirely my own.
One that will be around, free standing, long after you’ve grown.
Four—You’ve made me sicker than I knew was possible.
I mean that literally. I didn’t know I could endure so much illness.
Like having the flu. Combined with a stomach bug that sends you
Running to the toilet, your new best friend. Where you crouch, too exhausted
For months. And months.
Five—Life is hard. And the truth is, as hard as it is when all you can
Do is poop and cry, it will get harder. You’ll still want to cry and scream,
But you won’t be able to do a thing but tough it out. There will
Be days when you’ll want to give up. There will be times when you will
Feel that you cannot go on. And yet, those times will not outweigh the
Adventures that await you.
And we’ll be there to see you through.
Six—we overdid it on your nursery. I didn’t even know that I had
That kind of thing inside of me. I am NOT a decorator.
I do not do pink. I am not interested in home décor.
And yet here we are
Decked out with bunny decals and these tiny little stars
Covered in paintings of the sun and the moon
That we carried around, almost buried, moved from place to place
With no thought of resurrecting them
Until there came you.
Seven—I’ve spent my life learning to be strong and to be brave.
But all of the strength and all of the bravery might not be enough
For the daring challenge in front of me that every day with you
Eight—My life has had some hard parts, but I hope yours won’t.
Still, I worry that if yours isn’t hard, you won’t become brave and strong.
I worry that you’ll whine and whimper and cower all night long.
The world is a rough place and I want you to be ready to face
Whatever comes your way.
Nine—I wonder if the kicking you’re doing now is a small indicator
Of all the trouble you’re bound to cause me once you get here.
Each time I push against you and you push back
I consider all of the stubbornness and rebelliousness
That made your father and I love each other in the first place.
If you embody all that, we better brace ourselves--
We’ll be bound to have our hands full with a freight train
Pushing its way through every obstacle.
Ten—Despite all the worry and all the fear,
I can’t wait to meet you.
The excitement makes it feel like every day
Is the night before Christmas
And I’m suddenly five again,
Waiting and wondering
For the world—you--
For our love story to be told.
Until then, I'll write love letters
and wait for new life to begin.
I miss mixed tapes.
That's what I thought to myself as I walked out to my car (with no tape deck) on the first day of work in quite a while for me.
I miss the days of tapes that had been made by people who knew me well. (I also had a long pause as I stood at my door, missing the tapes, while I pondered the fact that I was now old enough to find myself wallowing in nostalgia at 7:00 AM on an idle Tuesday morning).
This is what I miss:
-The songs all had some kind of thread connecting them, but it was an organic one, not the kind found through logarithms and computerized gadgets, and part of the fun was figuring out the tie that bound the songs together.
-They were always made with love. The maker undoubtedly--no, inevitably, given the nature of tapes--spent hours making the tape, not to mention the time spent deliberating about what to include. The space was finite, precious. The maker had to maximize it with the perfect harmonious mix.
-Those tapes unlocked doors to new and amazing musical experiences. Some of the mixed tapes I received in my adolescence quite literally changed my life. The music was a link to a past, a present, a future. It was a link to a community.
-Road trips without mixed tapes will never be the same. We can have all of the podcasts that we want--all of the digital connections possible--and still, it will not be like the days of mixed tapes, driving down the road rewinding it to exactly the right spot so that you can hear that perfect song just one more time.
Even after all this time, I find that music saves me over and over again. It has always been songs that have brought me through darkness and difficulty, songs that have given me the strength to carry on when the task seemed impossible. Even now, when I'm outdated and far too clueless to know so many of the artists out there, when I no longer have space in my brain for band names and song titles, much less specific lyrics, I find myself clinging to the songs I know and love to give me comfort and guidance when faced with obstacles.
"that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have..."
© K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K. Ashley Dickson and Teaching the Apocalypse with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All thoughts and ideas are the author's and do not represent any employer.