First came Alexander.
I met him an hour after he met the world,
Red-faced and wailing.
I’d seen his foot on an ultrasound once;
The same foot now fluttering against my palm,
A lively miracle.
I was pushing him on a swing when his brother was born.
A warm spring day.
The next morning, we met Matthew together.
I cupped his head in my hands, breathed in his breath.
Xander covered him in stickers,
A prized possession.
My sister’s first took me whole, no surprise.
I spent a week with Luke just after his birth.
I held him for days, hips rocking as to a metronome,
Heart wobbling like sea legs on land.
Atoms, energies exchanged, traded,
A permanent bond.
Then came Sydney, first girl, last.
I kissed her toes the day we met (one hundred times, I counted).
I love you, I whispered. I’ll be here, I’m here.
We girls stick together. We ladies, we stay.
Shared gender, shared blood,
An immutable connection.
People ask if it’s hard not having my own.
It’s hard sometimes, I say.
There’s a loss there of dreams, grief for a plan, a falter in moving on.
Then Syd curls up in my lap, calls me “Grandpa,” falls asleep;
Luke’s face lights up when he sees mine, so happy he claps as he laughs;
Matt listens rapt, sometimes skipping a breath, as I read him adventurous tales;
Xander teaches me football, tries not to laugh, high-fives as I finally score.
Some days it’s hard, the ones I’m alone.
My pockets emptied of toys.
Most days, though, I marvel I’ve earned such a life:
A lap full of nieces, piggy backs with the boys, the sound of “Aunt Meg!” through a door.
Desert body, oasis heart:
A closeness of close-enough.
Meg Wood usually ends her poems with knock-knock jokes. You can read her opinions about books, films, and TV at http://megwood.wordpress.com, as well as her internationally revered (or reviled, depending on what she's said about Christian Bale that day) Boyfriend of the Week essays at http://megwood.com.