The New Statue

                                 Morning Song Love set you going like a fat gold watch. The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry Took its place among the elements.   Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue. In a drafty museum, your nakedness Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.   I’m no more your mother Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow Effacement at the wind’s hand.   All night your moth-breath Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen. A far sea moves in my ear.   One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral In my Victorian nightgown. Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square   Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try Your handful of notes; The clear vowels rise like balloons.                                                        Sylvia Plath 19 February 1961          When my son was born, I was shocked to realize that among all the poems I knew, hardly any were about a baby or about becoming a mother. For a long time I had been accustomed to find, on almost any occasion of substance, a line of verse rising unbidden to consciousness, unerringly telling me what I was feeling. But the joyous line that had risen spontaneously and immediately at childbirth —”For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” — was followed by no others, and an unaccustomed silence lay heavy on my mind with the absence of any resonance between my life and a poem commenting on it.          One of the poems that I did know (remembered from childhood because my mother had quoted it) opened with a putative dialogue between a mother and her newborn baby:   Where did you come from, baby dear?

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