Thursday, June 23, 2005

Poem of Jack's First Day

When we first met our son Jack
He was a cry heard across the room,
A high-octave pipsqueak wail.
Then the surgeon, smiling, held him high.
He was a flailing package of surprise.
His spread-wide fingers clawed his cheek.
His almond-shaped eyes were open, wildly, madly blue.
His head's shape was beautiful.
He had dark lanugo hair like an Eskimo's,
Ruddy skin pinkening, a deep chest breathing deeply,
Broad hands like a carpenter's in miniature,
And long limbs wheeling in the cold and antiseptic air.
He came to a halt on the warming table,
Under it's sunny light and the nurses' songs of praise,
And found his first repose.
He turned and looked me in the eye,
As I moved in close.
Then we clasped him to us.
He was blanketed like a rescued seaman,
This secret stranger we had been hearing from
By sonar and knocks on the bulkhead wall.
We held agitated get-acquainted talks.
He cried, though he could not tell us why,
And we cried too, to know his voyage ended safely.
Later, I read a magazine by a low light
And watched his sleeping respirations
In the late night quiet
Until I could not sit upright.

[September, 1991]

A Poem of Jack's First Words

I. "DADA," the name that Mamas teach their babies first!
He started with "addy," and "adda adda,"
Then finally he could say "dada."
He said it as early as six months
When he could hardly say boo,
But nobody would believe me.
People told him, "You're Dad is silly,"
And tickled his chin to see him laugh with them.
They were sure he could not talk yet.
He only listened in their noisy rooms,
He was just visiting, looking around, no comment.
But, on the shadowed stair, as I brought him down
From his crib in serene dawn light,
With no one else around to distract his gaze,
He would look me in the eye and stop me cold
With a quiet "Dada!" and a smile.

II. "EDDY," his name for our dog Ted.
Again, his mother's coaching showed,
She was teaching him to name the ones he loved.

III. "BABA," for his formula or milk or juice, his bottle.
Later his bouncing ball was "ba" and "baba,"
Likewise his little rubber baseball bat
Which he held by the fat end and sucked
And waved in the air. His morning banana
With his cereal was always "baba."
A Golden Delicious, a peach, was a "ba,"
A ball of sweetness his mom would cut up
In slippery chunks for his nimble greedy fingers.
Also "baba" became "ball ball," bouncing the ball,
When he saw big kids playing "ball ball" in the park,
He'd go waddling into the basketball game.
He'd have to be pulled out. He'd wail, "BALL BALL!"
He was sure he could play with those kids.

IV. "KITTY," another love object,
Loved for its soft fur
And its contented purring.
Any small animal, a squirrel
Or puppy, was called "kitty."

V. "VROOM!," a sound he loved to make
As cars shot past us
When we drove to daycare.

VI. "M-M-M GOOD!," another imitation of his Mom,
From his introduction to solid foods.

VII. "M-M-MAMA!," Jack finally said "Mama!"
And his mother almost fainted.
After many false starts,
"Emma," "Emmay," and "Emmy,"
Which he said for weeks and months,
His Dad finally got the idea
And established a firm tutelage,
Continually modeling "Mama" as an address.
Then one day while eating he said, "M-M-Mama!."

VIII. "COOKIE," a tasty treat to munch
With new teeth.

IX. "BOBEE," for flying marvels in the yard,
Big blackbirds, for gulls that swooped down at the beach
As he ran to them with handfuls of popcorn.
Later, he used "Bobee" for Big Bird on TV,
Though that dodo seemed incapable of flight.

X. "AWGEE," the actual name of his cousin's dog.
Later, he learned to call Ted "Awg."
On the TV shows we watched, the bears, the lions,
Most creatures, were "awgs."
But the unicorn was "kitty."
At a circus parade, an elephant
Was an awesome-- deep breath-- "BIG AWG!"

XI. "UH-OH!," another dinnertime word,
For when he dumped his plate
From his highchair perch,
Making a mess for us
And a feast for "awg."
Soon he would use "uh-oh!,"
With a big full-faced smile,
To make us laugh
When we were tense or upset.

XII. "PRETTY!," his name for his mother's earrings,
Her necklace, her smile, her eyes.

XIII. "HI DAD!," a greeting his "Pretty Mama" modeled.
I got to hear it every day when I came home.

XIV. "HEY GEE!," this his greeting for the "awg."

XV. "PUMPTHIN," his first round object
That was not a "ba."
At October's end
His Mom transformed it
Into a lantern.
That magic night
We went out on a walk.
All the neighbors had one
In their windows,
And he couldn't believe
All the "pumpthins!"

XVI. "BA-DOW!," Jack's word for excitement.
When a train crashed in a TV movie,
With the onlookers screaming, "Lookout!"
Our boy yelled, "Bow! Bow! Ba-Dow!"
He derived it from the children's game
At daycare: "All Fall Down!"
(Yes, Ring Around The Rosie.)

XVII. "PEAR," his only fruit that was not a "ba,"
Softer and more sweet.

XVIII. "GET DOWN?," his urgent request to be released
From his highchair, his playpen, my arms.
Our Jack now lived by the "Get Down!" imperative,
His continual need to go off and toddle,
Explore, and knock things over, "Uh-Oh!"
And to fall down, "Ba-Dow!"
As we were watching football on TV,
The players collided and tumbled to the grass:
"Booboo Down!" -- daycare his model for this, too,
A playground mishap. He was delighted,
On TV they repeated it over and over.
This new game, football, was "Booboo Down."

XIX. "PEASE?," his asking for "More, please"
When there's no more milk in his "ba."
(He was not asking for peas.)

XX. ... And now this latest was not really a word,
But a marvelous and fun linguistic exercise
With a mouthful of milk: "PTH-TH-TH! PTH-TH-TH!"
The raspberry! It tells adults
To try and have some fun. Let's play.

[October, 1992]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?