(p.72) “Morning Song,” Sylvia Plath
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 open 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.
What I like about this much less exuberant poem is the metaphors she uses to describe this strange, bewildering, and exhausting experience of caring for a new baby. The images (metaphors) don’t work together—they just came flying at you one after another: gold watch, statue in a museum, a cloud above a dewy field, breath like a moth fluttering, the sea, a cow, a cat’s mouth, balloons. That’s kind of how the first days of being a mother felt—strange and disconnected, but experienced with intensity: apparently meaningless details etched in the mind, and everything happening in the present tense.
1967 - first photo
1 year ago