...regarding the ability to draft a decent poem or essay. The verdict: sleep deprivation.
So many attempts at soothing the middle child’s growing pains later (Tylenol, Homeopathic and Bach flower remedies, Epsom soaks, thirty-dollar bottles of liquid calcium-magnesium in orange-flavored serums, vitamins, bananas, jungle juice teeming with acai berry antioxidants, arnica rubdowns, tiger balm kneads, the sleeping prophet’s palma christi applied with heat, and the hundredth reading of Rip Van Winkle), I’m reduced to 4 a.m. Google searches for a promising? lead to a site out of the UK on emu oil, since the pain that started in the arches now also radiates from my son’s knees, elbows, and this month, hands.
While he folds his body back into mine, the youngest wakes, aware the source of milk has traveled into his brother’s room. The dueling crying begins and the grueling portioning out of care, nursing one, the other nestled against my back pleading for me to hold his feet, writhing his knees between mine, curling his hands into my spine.
An hour later they’re both asleep. Insomnia sets in; I too wouldn’t mind crawling into bed next to my mother, but she’s across town in the arms her lover. I extract myself from the boys, stoke the fire, make tea, find solace in a passage from Heather McHugh’s essay, The Fabric: A Poet’s Vesalius (December 2007 issue of Poetry): “The body’s blood network wraps a man into his shape, keeps him bound in influencies, fluencies. It is the tree of our family system, with one trunk and many branches and twigs curved about in interlocking bonds, a place of humming hammockwork. It’s a comforting figure. When you look at circulatory man, you see why humans had to hug. But when you look at neural man, you see why humans had to fly.” The exquisite quiet and steadfast company of another thinker, trammeling into the terrain I love.
When the first watery light comes through the skylight, I call a friend in Iowa City. “I feel so old, Mary. What’s wrong with me? Maybe I’m ill and I don’t know it.”
“Nah,” she says, “You’re nursing, that’s all.”
Friday-writing-day: here I sit, brainpower siphoned off into the breast milk, my youngest napping in the bed beside my desk, his eyes REM-darting beneath his eyelids as he dreams all I should be writing. In my altered state, Mr. Tart, the lab is here: I think I could follow my son into dream, awake, if I tried.