Once on a plane a woman asked me to hold her baby and disappeared. I figured it was safe, our being on a plane and all. How far could she go?
She returned one hour later, having changed her clothes and washed her hair. I didn't recognize her.
By this time the baby and I had examined each other's necks. We had cried a little. I had a silver bracelet and a watch. Gold studs glittered in the baby's ears. She wore a tiny white dress leafed with layers like a wedding cake.
I did not want to give her back.
The baby's curls coiled tightly against her scalp, another alphabet. I read new new new. My mother gets tired. I'll chew your hand. The baby left my skirt crumpled, my lap aching. Now I'm her secret guardian, the little nub of dream that rises slightly but won't come clear. As she grows, as she feels ill at ease, I'll bob my knee.
What will she forget? Whom will she marry? He'd better check with me. I'll say once she flew dressed like a cake between two doilies of cloud. She could slip the card into a pocket, pull it out. Already she knew the small finger was funnier than the whole arm.
Can't you just see that baby? And the tired mother? I always laugh at "we had cried a little" - they both had. For me the poem actually ends at "I'll chew your hand," the lines after that just aren't as interesting to me. Maybe she should have stopped it right there. What do you think?
matter [ME matere, fr. OF matere, matiere, fr. L materia] tree trunk (<"matrix," the tree's source of growth) matter, subject, physical substance, wood for building, fr. mater mother
mother Based ultimately on the baby-talk form ma- 2 [Indo-European ma - 1 <"good" with derivatives meaning "occurring at a good moment, timely, seasonable, early, ripe" ; ma- 2 <"breast" an imitative root derived from the child's cry for the breast, a linguistic near-universal found in many of the world's languages; ma- 3 <"damp ") [ME moder, fr. OE modor, akin to OHG muoter, ON mothir, L mater (maternal, maternity, matriculate, matrix, matron), Gk meter (metro-, metropolis [<"mother city]; Demeter [< "god-mother"], Skt matr]
meter [ME meter, metre, fr. OE & MF, fr. L metrum, fr. Gk metron (<"measure" ) fr. IE root me-] meter, metrical, diameter, geometry, metronome. Suffixed forms mens, men-ot (<"moon, month") an ancient and universal unit of time measured by the moon (menarche, meniscus, menopause, menses, menstrual, bimester, semester, trimester).
poetry [fr. ME poet, poete fr. OF poete, fr. L poeta, fr. Gk poietes, poetes <"maker, composer, poet, fr. poien to make, do , create, compose"] akin to Skt cinoti <"he gathers, heaps up, piles in order," OSlav ciniti <"to arrange, to pile up"
padre from papa, achild's word for "father," a linguistic near-universal found in many languages. [IE root pa- <"to protect, feed" (fodder, forage, pabulum, food, foster, pasture, repast, pastor <"shepherd, protector") (ME fader, fr. OE faeder; akin to OHG fater, ON fathir, Goth fadar, L pater, Jupiter [<"god-father"], patrare [<"to bring about"]; Gk pater, Skt pitr) patrician, patrimony, patron, pater, paternal
pattern [ME patron, fr. MF, fr. L patronus (<"master, pattern") fr. L defender, protector, advocate, fr. patr-, pater (<"father") a fully realized form, original, or model accepted or proposed for imitation, archetype, exemplar.