Bilingual is Better
Mar
03
2011

Mothering: A Draft In Progress

Posted by:  |  Category: Bicultural Vida, Daily Blog

25

Courtesy of Elsie Rivas Gomez

Last week, I found myself passionately reading sonnets by Pablo Neruda to my 2-year-old. Yes, I know that sounds obnoxious, but the book is all pink, and she pulled it off the shelf…then I found the poem in it we read at our wedding…then I told her how romantic it was that Neruda wrote a hundred love sonnets for his wife…And somewhere between eyerolls, my husband suggested I should write love sonnets for the girls.

Now, that sounds easier than it is. Which I told him.  In a former life, I was a poet who wrote poems regularly and developed her craft. But somewhere between the babies and the job and and and…I’m lucky to get out a blog post here or there.  Still, I let myself think about it and that night I tried to compose one while up with the baby in middle of the night.  I’ve heard other moms say they compose blog posts like that.  However, I didn’t write it down and it dissapeared. Whoosh.  So, I did what I could and I wrote a poem, and you’ll find it below.

But, regardless of the poem, or maybe because of the poem, I’m thinking now of my other tongue. Not English or Spanish, but my creative tongue that used to tell stories and make poems.  I think perhaps I need to use that one more often.  As mothers and fathers, we are always code-switching between languages and roles, negotiating with ourselves for time and space.  I keep speaking in Spanish, Spanglish, and English to my girls because I want them to be able to speak in these idiomas facilmente. I want them to always have the words to express themselves.  Today, I’m thinking that maybe that’s too two-dimensional. So I’m going to try to also show them how to speak like a poeta, and maybe tomorrow like a scientist, and then like a mathmetician. Because if I want them to love their two languages, then I need them to play in all their voices and I know they have multitudes of voices inside. We all do.

Lost Poem by Elsie Rivas Gomez

I wrote a poem for you
at 3 am while rocking you, patting your warm back
willing your eyes to close, like mine
I wrote it between the beats of my heart
on the exhale of my breath into your hair

But it’s gone now

the sun filled our bed
and washed it away like the dark
edged out by the rising light

it was about you
something about
your eyes, how they hold your secrets
how inside them I can see
flickers of the woman you’ll become

it was about your skin
made of milk and tears
of so many spoken and unspoken wishes

I wanted to say something about how I am a mother
because you are my baby
how both those things can only be true together,
like some mathematical equation that I feel in my bones

I think I said something
about seeing my body in your body
at times
but how other times, like now,
you are a total surprise to me
with a dimple that didn’t come from me or your father
with a wry smile I don’t recognize

the poem I wrote for you was a sonnet
in iambic pentameter
which is easy to write in while rocking
to the sound of our hearts beating

but this moment
I’ve snuck away to type as your father holds you
and your sister dances for you
this moment is not so
rhythmic
it’s a stolen moment without you
the light harsher and the world noisier mid-morning

I just wanted to tell you
that there is a poem in me, and it is about you.

Even though the words are gone, it’s here
in the space beneath the center of my chest,
where you like to lay your head and sleep.

Poema Perdido por Elsie Rivas Gomez

Te escribi un poema
a las tres de la manaña, mientras te mecía, acariciandio tu espalda calientita
esperando que tus ojos se cierren, como los mios
Lo escribí entre los latidos de mi corazón
en la exhalación de mis respiros en tu pelo

Pero ahora se ha perdido

el sol llenó nuestra cama
y lo arrastró como la oscuridad
desplazada por la luz

se trataba de ti
algo acerca
de tus ojos, cómo guardan tus secretos
cómo dentro de ellos puedo ver
destellos de la mujer en la que te vas a convertir

se trataba de tu piel
hecha de leche y lágrimas
de tantos deseos hablados y secretos

Yo quería decir algo acerca de cómo soy una madre
porque vos sos mi bebé
cómo estas dos cosas sólo pueden ser verdaderas a la misma vez,
como una ecuación matemática que siento en mis huesos

Creo que dije algo
de ver mi cuerpo en tu cuerpo
a veces
pero cómo otras veces, como ahora,
sos un sorpresa completa
con un hoyuelo que no vino de mí ni de tu padre
con una sonrisa irónica que no reconozco

el poema que escribí para ti era un soneto
en pentámetro yámbico
que es fácil de escribir, mientras en la mecedora
al ritmo de los latidos de nuestros corazones

pero este momento
que me he escapado mientras tu padre te tiene en sus brazos
y tu hermana baila para ti
este momento no es tan
rítmico
es un momento robado lejos de  ti
la luz más dura y el mundo más ruidoso a media mañana

Solo te quería decir
que hay un poema en mí, y es acerca de ti.

Aunque las palabras se han ido, está aquí
en el espacio debajo del centro de mi pecho,
donde te gusta acostar tu cabeza y soñar.

Please, in the comments, share with me the other “languages” and voices you want to share and/or foster with your kids and any ideas you have for how to do so.

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