Born Before My Mother

Hopeless skies pressed down on weary stubblefields,
bore down, until all light, all life, had been transfused, absorbed,
consumed by cold and dry and ravenous land,
and there were only wind-bled, insubstantial,
(hardened, joyless, stubborn)
aimless people left
to lie upon the hungry earth,
to stare into the empty clouds,
to bring forth mealy, bitter fruit,
to pray for empty death and then deny it, thrice,
to sow the callous dust with crusted tears
and clotted blood and straw-white,
efflorescent salts, exuded
from their sightless eyes.

It was there, it was then--
I took germ inside my mother, floating deep inside my mother
floating deep inside her mother's knotted womb.
We three fed ourselves on callous dust and unforgiving wind
and we survived.

Mother was a small girl, with rounded eyes.
She did not feel me sleeping all those years inside her.
A slender girl, with downcast eyes,
she did not know her secrets and her dreams
diffused straight through me in the sombre prairie night.
A shy girl, with acquisitive eyes,
she did not care to know that I mutated while she slept,
became a changeling while she grew,
grew a stranger while she played.
Mother was a tough girl, with carborundum eyes.

I breathed because she breathed.
I lived because she did not die.
I did not die by random chance.
I germinated and I grew
and there are
impatient children sleeping deep in me.
The story ends, except

my sister
has tasted the sea.

We are all of us born many times
before we are born. When we die,
we are dead.

We bring bitter salt to salt-sown earth,
to patient, ravenous dirt.
We bring bitter ash to dust-strewn wind,
to patient, pitiless air.

JDP 96/12,97/12

Copyright John D Porter © 1996,1997

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