john_j_enright (john_j_enright) wrote,
john_j_enright
john_j_enright

The Challenge of Maternity

The livejournal "writer's block" feature asked:
Have you ever gone back and re-read a book you loved as a child only to find it incredibly disturbing now that you're an adult? Like The Giving Tree, for example: a terrifying tale of self-sacrifice or a reassuring story of maternal love?
Which reminds me of this sonnet by Gwen Harwood:
She sits in the park. Her clothes are out of date.
Two children whine and bicker, tug her skirt.
A third draws aimless patterns in the dirt.
Someone she loved once passes by — too late
 
to feign indifference to that casual nod.
"How nice, " et cetera. "Time holds great surprises."
From his neat head unquestionably rises
a small balloon... "but for the grace of God..."
 
They stand a while in flickering light, rehearsing
the children's names and birthdays. "It's so sweet
to hear their chatter, watch them grow and thrive,"
she says to his departing smile. Then, nursing
the youngest child, sits staring at her feet.
To the wind she says, "They have eaten me alive."
I think a lot of women have felt this way. Usually they get over it. I think. 

Having a child.
How primitive. How wild. 

They drift through people's dreams
and drive them to extremes. 

Thus does human nature
defy erasure.
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