Poetry Archive

Night Waking

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

When my son calls out
for one of his many night wakings
he seeks my breast in the dark
and finds it, suckling
until he falls back asleep.
In this ritual
that reminds us both
of his belonging
to this body,
we are more animal
than human.

Each time, I notice
how his tiny body stretches further,
his head filling more space
in the cradle of my arm,
and I gather him like a cloud,
knowing one day I will no longer.

Each time, I recall:
once, he lived inside this deflated belly,
now lined up against his.
Only 17 months ago he was head down,
pressing my cervix till his left eye bruised red
and red flooded my legs till I thought something
was falling out
and I said GO and we went to the hospital.
And they drugged me up. And cut him out.

After waiting so long, he arrived so fast,
as though someone had skipped ahead in the story.
The contractions
that seemed they would bleed my life away
ceased by the serums they injected.
That was the first relief;
the second: his first cry.
His first sound into this world.

There I saw, as though looking at someone else,
this very body, mine, stretched, then sliced open,
my guts shining on the table while they wrenched him out
with hands and metal tools hovering and diving like birds.
I strained to see, through blurry plastic and tilted eyeglasses
what I could not feel.

Did he first reach his hand up
like a rock star? Or was it the head,
cord wrapped around his neck before
the first breath
this skinny red-faced alien
who, when placed on my chest,
stared at me and we looked,
quietly, at each other
as they sewed my senseless skin together.

Some in the American-obsessive-manner would say
that I am not training him right,
that he will never learn to sleep alone 
if I let him nurse through the night,
if I let him sleep beside me.

But one day he will neither seek my breast,
nor me.

How sad it must be when
the one who lived inside you
one day pushes you away.
Not needing you anymore.

It is the story of life.
We were one, and are becoming two.

The singers were wrong
that two hearts beating as one
was about lovers.
They forgot about us,
as our sons leave
behind their mothers.

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Filed under: Poetry Archive


Aimee Suzara is a Filipino-American poet, playwright, and performer whose mission is to create poetic and theatrical work about race, gender, and the body to provoke dialogue and social change. Her first full-length book, SOUVENIR, was released in February 2014 (WordTech Editions) and was a Willa Award Finalist in 2015. Her plays A HISTORY OF THE BODY and TINY FIRES were selected as Finalists for the Bay Area Playwright’s Festival. A HISTORY OF THE BODY was also commissioned by the East Bay Community Foundation and supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.  She has collaborated with Amara Tabor Smith and Deep Waters Dance Theater for the food-justice themed dance theater piece, Our Daily Bread. Her poems appear in numerous journals and anthologies such as Kartika Review, 580 Split, Lantern Review and Walang Hiya: Literature Taking Risks Toward Liberatory Practice, Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees and Poets (Lit Noire Press) and her chapbooks, the space between and Finding the Bones (Finishing Line Press). She’s been featured as a spoken word artist nationally, including at Stanford, Mt. Holyoke College, Portland State University, University of Miami and UC Santa Cruz.  Suzara received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Mills College.  An advocate for the intersection of arts and literacy, she teaches at San Francisco State University and other universities and colleges, is the Spoken Arts Director at Ruth Azawa School of the Arts and leads workshops in poetry and performance for youth and adults. www.aimeesuzara.net