Primal Heart

(from Within My Illusions)

For a brief glimpse of time,
she was just the right size
for me to hold in one arm.

My fingers nested
her down-covered head,
the heel of my hand rested
in the fold of a neck
not strong enough to support
a skull still forming.

The pulse of her primal heart
beat into my wrist.

I could balance her spine along
the length of my forearm
while her pelvis folded into
the bend of my elbow.
Without a swaddle,
her legs cascaded down.
Her arms grasped the air
in disjointed burstås.

Naked, she had no choice but to trust,
had not yet learned of dread
or betrayal
or loss.

No one had warned her of risk,
nor cloaked her in stories of
big bad wolves,
wicked witches,
and golden-haired girls
who steal porridge
when no one is looking.

My daughter looked at me with night-black eyes
and a mouth that was convincing enough
for me to say she was smiling.
Most would have said it was just a reflex.

Her eyes released the latch of a window
in my heart that I thought I had sealed shut.
The one that introverted me within a shell
of me, myself, and I’s, insulated from lows and highs,
forgetting that depths of despair have equal
and opposite peaks of joy, and that both
are evidence of my human experience.

The one that contented me with complacency
rather than testing the extent of my resiliency.

But I didn’t come here to tiptoe
around the edges of being,
to rest comfortably, halfway
between fear and desire,
suffering and awe.

And neither did she.