I Know You Now

I Know You Now
by Beth Cortez-Neavel

I had never known
the glowing need for a child.

I had never wanted
that small alien life
kicking hard
from the inside of me,
commandeering my body,
so that it is no longer my own,
spurring urges beyond my control.

I had never thought
that tiny child
was something that I could hold.

But I awoke from a dream last night,
after sleeping in the new bed of my remodeled teenage room.
I awoke so full
and so empty
of you
my dark-haired daughter.

and you were young
maybe four or five years of age
and I was young
as I am now,
or a few years older

and you were sleeping soft on my warm lap
we were on a fading striped couch,
surrounded by those who loved me,
and you were sleeping with your dark wavy hair tangled across your face

and your long dark eyelashes fluttered in dreams
and your button nose sniffled every so often

and for the first time since high school –
That day when I was sixteen and learned from the gynecologist that
I might not be able to have you after all, we just wouldn’t know until I tried –
For the first time, my nameless little girl,
I woke up with tears
at the possibility of you.

and the possibility of your tiny fingers curled into the flow of my dress
and your perfect feet kicking softly in your sleep against my belly

I woke up lost, missing your small chest rising and falling with breath as I held you.

I knew I would try hard one day
to feel love from such a creature of my own making

to feel a sense of protection,
of fearlessness,
of living for both myself and for the world,
so I could teach you how to live accordingly

Oh my beautiful daughter,
I woke with a face streaked in still-falling tears,
drawn up deep from within that well where my sixteen-year-old self threw thoughts of you.

I have not seen you yet
my dark-eyed daughter,
I have not tasted a kiss from your smiling cheeks,
but I know you now.

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