Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the gold is the body

the most important things begin to drown in car keys, keyboard keys, deadline, chore, planning, magazine, groom, eat, an impenetrable seizure of living; my life is my movement forward, toward. no! no without the body there is an aching void. voids fill quickly with refuse disguised as gold: the gold is the body, my baby's body, my children's limbs and cheeks and hair and awkward feet and toes. the smell of their ears.

every day must make room for touching. every day must make room for holding.

in the primate world, to leave a baby alone, it's tiny vulnerable body splayed on the ground, is for the dead.

our babies and children are meant to be pressed against us. we are meant to be pressed against them. this is the work of the living, to press our bodies into one another. this is the work of the living, to cleave.

Ever Elizabeth: in the hospital bed; a high rise crib surrounded by snaking tubes, wires, all springing from our tiny one month old baby as if she were an alien pod, providing priceless energy. she lay there, unnaturally still. i tested the siderail. waited for the nurse to leave. mr. curry watched. i found how to climb up up and in and curl next to our baby. a dance of careful, miniature movements: do not clip the wires. do not yank the wires. do not. my legs bent. my arms bent. the moment she first turned her head and rooted to nurse, weakly, i could not stop the tears. the nurses appeared, flushed, surprised, laughed. they let me. they let me, every night, and during the day, climb up up the crib castle and lay pressed into my baby, until she was removed from the wires and the tubes and we could take her home. laying next to her was the most healing and comforting thing that i did the entire hospital stay. letting me do so was the most human thing the staff did. i believe she healed more deeply- in her fearful little self- because i was next to her. i believe i healed more deeply.

with nighttime comes the deepest intimacy. human beings / nighttime / survival
this is our DNA. darkness is a precursor of intensity. to take the leaders of the tribe- strong, loving, protective- and pair them with the weakest - small, vulnerable, unsure- yes. i will hear the small snuffle noises. i will feel her rabbit baby breath on my neck. i will hear her whimper though a bad dream and feel the small smooth pebble of her heel press into my stomach- once, twice- until she is stilled, and at peace, having found me. i will wake with her pudges of finger ribboned through my hair. the heat of urine. the flexing of her hand against my breast as she nurses. the tiny chuckles like rain that wake me from my sleep in the early morning. the enormous eyes that find mine as the light breaks the windowpane and I can barely stand to meet her gaze for the love is so consuming and this life so short.

years from now i will reap the benefits.

i know this because we also have sons, and the one of seventeen- tonite i lay in bed with him, late, after all the other children were asleep, and we talked in the dark of his room. he turned his back to me and lay his leg over my leg. he told me secrets. talked about his dreams, his best friend. i lay my hand on his head, scratched lazily. i love you so much, mom, he said. i love you so much, son, i replied.

years from now, he will reap the benefits.

from the beginning of his life, he was held in human touch. his brain awoke to the world while his body was being cherished and protected and held by those who loved him most. in this way he learned, and she is learning, that bodies are portals to emotion. that love is action. that love is comfort. that love is safe and safety. that love is all things human- the embarrassing- gas, snores- and the adorable- giggles, hugs- and the mundane and human- open mouthed sleeps. That although the dark can be all consuming and our minds and hearts can go dark alongside the night, the body of one who loves us can be a shield against everything we are afraid of. we can find peace, and comfort, and shelter in one another.

no matter what the day has held ( the raging boss, the angry teacher, a failure, humiliation, insecurity, tears ) nighttime is a sanctuary for rejuvenation of the heart and body.

one day, when he falls in love, he will know how to find the soul in the touch, and how to treat the body of those we love. and when he holds his children,

they will reap.


Lone Star Ma said...


michelle said...

my gosh maggie, that was absolutely beautiful

I will remember this when I am impatiently trying to disentangle from impulsive small arms in order to clean the dishes, sweep the floor, or complete some other mundane task

thank you


Sara said...

Oh my god, Maggie; the part about your son sent me weeping; you give me such hope (as the mother of a son who sleeps with me every night); you are doing such a goddamn good job. Don't ever forget that; you are a gift to your children as much as they are to you.

Blue Gal said...

My very favorite part: "the body of one who loves us can be a shield against everything we are afraid of."

My son still sleeps with me and I get a lot of flak about it. He's 5. We both find it comforting, so what is the harm?

Also, when I went to massage school this is something we talked about a lot; the healing power of touch and how simple it can be and how lost it is in the new techno-world where we are all virtually connected.

trashcanhead said...

this makes my heart swell. i sleep with my baby in the bed next to me, on top of me. it is my favorite thing about life. it is the only way that felt right to me, from the very beginning.

my husband tells me all of the time, about instincts. he tells me about people, animals, how we aren't meant to leave the tiny babies alone.

my problem is my boss. he gives me a very hard time for sleeping with the baby in the same room with me. he doesn't even know i sleep with her in the same bed. he has a 2 year old little boy. his boy sleeps from 7pm to 7am, and has slept that way since he was a small baby. my boss doesn't understand why i don't want to wake up at 3 am to come to work. he thinks if i leave the baby in the other room, i will be able to come and go as i please, without waking her, without her waking me. the point of my life isn't to come and go as i please.

i can't believe you crawled up and over, into that bed with her. i can't believe they let you. it's amazing.

Molly said...

so beautiful, a love letter to your children and yourself - ditto michelle, I'll remember this when trying to disentangle myself and ditto sara - you are a gift to your children.
thank you for this.

Amelia said...


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post on life. Thank you for sharing these words. They are still swirling through my mind as I get back to the mopping I was attempting to accomplish with my three kids' "help." :)

Shelley E said...

"no matter what the day has held ( the raging boss, the angry teacher, a failure, humiliation, insecurity, tears ) nighttime is a sanctuary for rejuvenation of the heart and body."

so very true.... :)

thank you-

T. Clear said...


Tears, also.


Elizabeth said...

You are on a magic roll, Maggie. This was simply beautiful and completely and utterly original.

lulumarie said...

Breathtaking. Beautiful beyond words. And when your children find their soulmates, this love will flow into amazing new beings who will have an incredible grandmother!

Anonymous said...

When my six year old son was falling asleep next to me last night I thought of full of love and honesty. You are hitting your stride, Maggie May. Don't worry that working + family + writing doesn't = gorgeous wonder. It does!!! xoxo (PS, just formatted your piece into the literary magazine. It fits in so beautifully! Can't wait to share it.)

Petit fleur said...

Your children are so lucky, as are you and Mr. Curry.

I love the way your describe things like pudgies weaving through your hair. (I may have gotten that wrong, but..)

This post makes me thankful for my choices RE Harley.
Thanks for the confimation.

Phoenix said...

This was so beautiful - you have moved me to tears.

Maggie May said...

I have a minute finally to reply and want to say with the utmost sincerity Thank You so much for stopping to take time to write to me and say that it means something to you. Because that means everything to me. I appreciate you as my fellow bloggers and readers so, so much. <3

Laura said...

This made me cry at work!! It was so beautiful.

Drunk Love Poet said...


You are a real person and THAT is a real compliment.

Much Love,

akka b.

See Kate run. said...

This made me cry and reach out and cup my three-year-old's cheek in my palm, and he smiled into my eyes.

It is this reason I find the rule of "no touching outside of high-fives" in so many schools somewhat worrisome. I know it is to keep well-defined lines for too few adults and too many children, but I can't help feel anxiety for the body ignorance this is inevitably bring.

Good on you, Maggie. Good on your babies, big and small.

Denise Emanuel Clemen said...

Parenting at its most profound. I am grateful through every atom of bone and flesh that I did that. You are right. Reap and sow. Sow and Reap.

Ms. Moon said...

This is exactly how I feel and my children are sowing, too. My grandson is loved and is loving already, in that physical way. The way he throws himself against us, reaches up to hug us, the way he rides on his mother like a bear cub, she holds him like a bear cub's mother.

Annie said...

A beautiful post, Maggie. It made me feel peaceful, and tearful, in all of the good ways. Also, it reminded me of my son when he was an infant, in the hospital, and it was so important that I take him out of traction, and nurse him. That physical bonding, touch, voice, and love, made a huge difference, I'm sure, at the beginning of his life; and all of the nursing, afterwards, when he was in a body cast from chest to ankle through the age of 4 months for dislocated hips, and we had that closeness. You always remind of the good things, and the important things.

Jen said...

Wow! Your writing is amazing. You can really put things into words Lady! I'm so glad I found your blog.

Caroline said...

I can relate to your article...the touch is powerful and heals.thanks for sharing this.

Middle Child said...

I am just blown away by your wisdom and the way you express it - this is what child raising books should hold!

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