Cradling

I stand in an unwalled room, seventy years of wallpaper
Hanging in strips off pock-marked plaster,
A rough oak table surrounded by grinning friends and relations,
The table scattered with treats
Taken from a scarred porcelain stove in our superannuated kitchen.
Standing there, I feel warmth from the bundle gradually intertwine with my own,
My taut forearm greeting the churning of small legs,
And I own both.

Through the streaked pane of a solid double-hung window,
Recently bared of its weary paint,
I remember one year ago the eleven paces from the car to the house.
How I fold an urgent grip around the papers embossed by a lawyer
And race against the downpour with cocked head and squealing shoes.
More precious than my grizzly head are these papers,
More worthy of a legacy than the patent leather shoes I wore to the closing.
Arrived finally in my new home, raindrops from my coat still pommeling the pine floor,
I uncradle the packet to make sure nothing was smudged.

One has to gaze at what one cradles.
Retrieving the child from some well-wisher,
I slip a palm beneath its head and sense I have become the whole universe to the unknown creature.
I emerge as a presence when the wide pupils sweep their field of vision to find me.

Now we share the notes of a simple harmonic scale.
The child responds to my resonance,
The overtones traveling through my chest and arms and lips.

A phone blares impudently from its cradle.
The baby and I ignore it, wrapped in our voyage.

Andy Oram
May 9, 2018

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