from the
moment of conception
she is of me
yet not

in preparation for the
first stage of separation
her tiny organs plump
stretching toward

within the womb
with thumb in mouth
she seeks her own

I meet her
perfect little form
as the midwife severs
the first bloody

as I rejoice
and marvel at her
complex infant

as I hold her
touching skin with skin,
feeling somehow nearer to her
though now there is air between us,
and hands reach out, hands of
those who surely cannot
love her as
I do

even before she
has begun to love me
she has taken an innocent
step towards freedom
from my maternal

now she will
grow and learn
and break away
as we all

how sad
that even after
all the bloody cords are
cut and my child is freed from
those knotted strings of infant
need I still feel the pull of
that pre-natal lifeline
which, long ago,

I have
learnt to ignore this
phantom tug at my aching womb
and the tightening of my heart,
for fear that my offspring
may steal my womb
or bleed.

©Jane Paterson Basil


17 thoughts on “Umbilicus

  1. Oh my… You set that up so beautifully making us feel the connection, even after birth, then punch us in the gut with the last stanza. Very masterful. One of your best. I loved:

    within the womb
    with thumb in mouth
    she seeks her own

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like to think I grew out of my violent nature. Maybe I just learnt to put a pen in my fist. I wrote this last week, in a notepad.
      I’m glad you like the thumbsucking stanza. I often think about that. I suppose the foetus (English spelling) has the sucking instinct before birth, because it will be needed later.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think maybe we always need that instinct. Sometimes it just comes in other forms. Most of them addictive unless we learn how to provide our solace in a healthy way… (Btw, I never get your replies. I haven’t been able to figure out why. Any clue?)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I don’t know why you never get my replies. I don’t think emails I get all of the likes and comments from readers, and I don’t know why that is, either. Maybe we’ve got our lists configured wrong. I’m off for the weekend, but I think I’ll have a look at mine when I get back.
          I don’t think I can control wether you get responses from here. I expect it’s to do with something at your end.


  2. So loving and so painful. Why do we put ourselves through parenthood – it’s like asking for a kick in the gut every single day 🙂 Wonderfully put, Jane – that feeling of closeness when they’re already pulling away.
    I read a short story recently that described how a mother loved her teenage child but mourned the wonderful five year old she had been. As they grow and reinvent themselves into a new person every few years, you grieve for each passing individual they were.
    I love my eleven year old, but still miss the toddler he was. But that person’s gone forever. It’s a tragic and lovely thing, parenthood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so rightMy son used to wrap his arms around my neck and place his cheek against mine, and it was probably the most loving feeling I have ever had. Sometimes I long to have those moments back, but it would mean losing him as he is now, and in spite of all of the hurt he caused me in the years before he was imprisoned, I couldn’t bear to replace him with the 12 month old that he once was.
      Or maybe I simply couldn’t bear to live through all those subequent years of hell again…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They are the most loving creatures at that age, aren’t they? And even though I miss my toddler son, he’s still amazing now. I just wish memory was more perfect and less muzzy and I could feel him in my arms as a little chap. But then, I’d have the danger of wishing to live in that world forever.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Maybe the more we long for moments of the past, the more fuzzy they become, and that is one of our body’s defence mechanisms, to keep us in the present?
          Sometimes I have good dreams, and rather than wishing they were real, I say that they are. After all, I enjoy them when I am sleeping, and it feels as if I’m awake.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, could well be. It does none of us any good to dwell in the past – good or bad. Some of the most real moments I’ve had have been whilst dreaming, when you can almost touch something, when the colours are most vivid. Sometimes that’s wonderful, sometimes not and it always surprises me how ephemeral those dreams can be.

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Ooh, sounds like a beguiling, dangerous path to wander along. Tempting sometimes. There are nights I close my eyes and before I go to sleep, I watch the patterns morph on the inside of my eyelids, my brain picking out such wonderous images, fantastical things – animals, fruit, hill top villages, you name it – in gorgeous jewel colours. I could happily stay in those moments for a long, long time.

                Liked by 1 person

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