EARTH/SIDE: FOR GABRIEL is a mosaic of writings from 2020-2021 that I started weaving together after birthing my son, Gabriel, in November 2020. This piece began as a non-linear narrative about the time in my life leading up to his conception, through my pregnancy, and into the post-birthing cuarentena (40 days postpartum) and fourth trimester. As I was piecing these writings together to become a cohesive poem, it took on a more linear shape; this was happening alongside my internal processing of our birth story.
At the heart of this poem is the recognition of pregnancy as a middle-ground or liminal space between the worlds of conceiving (creation) and birthing (guiding someone into an earthly existence). Dar a luz (to birth/bring forth light) is a transitional state between inside/outside of the womb. Through the process of birth, the birthing person takes on the journey of guiding a new being from one phase of being into another. This poem is also about the passage of stepping into being a mama, about the shift in identity from my pre-baby days to understanding what it means to be a mama to a new baby.
As I was writing this poem, I was also thinking about how Gabriel was “transverse breech” (in biomedical terms), and despite my efforts to encourage him to move, he stayed in this sideways lying position (necessitating a c-section). While assembling this poem, I was surrendering the “perfect birth” narrative I had created by seeing that despite things not going how I envisioned, I brought strength to the beautiful ceremony of welcoming Gabriel.
Becoming into light/ness.
Weaving bones & muscle
Vessels & cells
Fabric of eternity
Preparing a place for you:
Aquí te espero.
I am in the garden with the golden light,
Manzanilla, calendula, lavender, plumajillo.
I steep myself in ceremony,
& walk through the quiet months.
Looking for you:
Will you be familiar?
Will you be familial?
You, side-ways in your womb-like home.
Skin stretching my body of water
Held by river currents coursing through
Esperando oír tu voz.
Ombligo rising above,
Emerging like hyacinth, like crocus.
Tides pulling gravity.
Water flowing from
“El día en que tu naciste nacieron todas las flores.”
Shifter of sleep/Your hair like feathers,
Your hair, wet.
Touching your face,
Skin silken like petalos de rosas
Tracing your head,
Knowing your scent.
My body-mind given for you.
My body imprinted with your shape.
Watching the stillness before spring again—
Red buds, their tender existence on maple branches.
The unfolding of my new identity:
Being, breathing here.
“What is the name for a grief that creeps in after losing something, mixed with the back-dated guilt and shame of not really noticing? What is the nickname for a person who no longer embodies their name? What happens to a person who has become unrecognizable to some? What do we call a tree that’s been severed from its roots? A person who has been robbed of their identity?”
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