Monday, September 12, 2016

Poem for my Firstborn - a Sestina

me & my firstborn
Today the boy who made me a mother turns 22.

Happy Birthday, Daniel!!!

I always wanted to be a mother -- always always always. I still feel like it is the most important thing I will ever do.

So, 22 years ago today I was marveling over those big eyes and sweet cheeks and how right he felt in my arms... and, apparently I wrote a poem about it. A sestina, no less! I found a copy in a folder recently when cleaning out my studio. I'm sure it could benefit from some editing, but I've decided to share it with you just as I found it. Thanks so much for reading!

For My Firstborn

You were conceived under an orange moon,
my skirt hiked up, his hair in my fingers.
When I told him I’d soon be a mother,
he just chuckled, said that wasn’t so hard.
I dreamed of you nights, swimming in water,
eyes just like your father’s, electric blue.

Soon veins streaked my belly, a map of blue,
my breasts hung heavier than two full moons.
Your father would fill the tub with water,
play you like a cello with his fingers.
My skin stretched tight, became a drum beat hard
soft soft hard. Your toes and elbows. Mother-

love flowed through songs I learned from my mother,
who said to labor with thoughts of blue
waves, to howl and breathe through it, the hardest
work you’ll ever do. I‘d lasso that moon,
I glowed with the challenge, swollen fingers
and stretch marks at home as boats on water.

Past due, still no sign of breaking water,
doctor said, come, I’ll make you a mother.
I said thirteen prayers and crossed my fingers,
couldn’t wait to meet our Little Boy Blue.
Nursery ready with painted stars and moon,
we never knew waiting would be so hard.

In the hospital contractions got hard,
then out you rushed in a gush of water.
We cried and whispered our thanks to the moon,
I felt I’d been born to be your mother.
Your father gave out cigars wrapped in blue,
I watched you sleep, fist gripping my finger,

stroked your cheek with the tip of my finger.
Lovely, but still, saying goodbye is hard;
empty womb cramped – hello, post-partum blues.
Now for the message penned in blood, not water:
from the start I’ve loved being your mother,
I shine with your light like a hungry moon.

Your fingers quench thirsts unknown to water,
hard journey is done, now rest with your mother--
I’ll give you blue milk and show you the moon.

- Irene Latham


  1. You picked such perfect words -- so much you can do with "blue," "water," and "hard." Nothing more amazing than the creation of a mother!

  2. Don't touch it. This is so true and so amazingly crafted, too. Full of love and light and water and pain and all that a mother holds.

  3. This is beautiful! I didn't know the sestina form, so looked it up. What a challenge. Can't wait to share this with my daughter-in-law (new mom) and daughter (mom-in-waiting).

  4. Wow, a sestina. Nice! What joyous occasion. Happy 22nd to Mother and Son. Please tell Daniel that Uncle Charles thinks he RULES!


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