Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pregnancy Massage

I take three large pale green pillows
to each pregnancy massage:

once you're on the table, on your side
I pack you in. One goes under your head;

one between your knees, spacing 
bottom leg from top;

and the third is to hug
to your chest. It keeps

the top shoulder from cranking down
and keeps you modest

when I undrape your back.
That's the theory. In fact

This configuration takes on a thousand shapes:
magnifying the sweep of the spine

into a character written with an impudent brush
on my massage table: this woman is

a cedilla, her calves the only 
exception to the 'c';

and this one an extravagant
'h' in the insular script,

a splendid lumbar lordosis
kicking the ass way back 

while the top thigh 
reaches high and forward.

I never know what you
will write, or whether 

you will hug the table
or the sky. The belly 

argues with its own logic,
yours and not yours.

We all start here, in 
the warm, swollen fruit

of aching flesh,
carried on diagonals

of endless variation.
Above, the ribs rise and fall,

and the strapping-tape abdominals
stagger like a little man 

carrying groceries. But each
of you, having written

a glorious letter of your own,
sighs "oh, this is comfortable!"

As if I had planned it all.
I fuss and tuck and adjust

to support the illusion;
but you are writing this letter,

you are building this house, and these, my hands,
are yours.


Dale said...

Note: the poet is apparently under the impression that "cedilla" can refer to a letter 'c' subscripted with a cedilla -- 'ç' (the letter known in many languages as a "broken 'c'"). In this of course he is quite mistaken, but as conscientious editors we have let the error stand.

rbarenblat said...

Oh, Dale, this poem is stunning. Breathtaking. Wow.

am said...


Before the words there were letters. Before the letters there were pictures.

Yes. Let the error stand. Picasso said that art is a lie that tells the truth.

Thanks so much.

Kristen Burkholder said...

Heavenly days.
Thank you.
Gave a pregnancy massage today and will do so tomorrow and this poem will be close to me always therefore...

Unknown said...

My wife is currently pregnant. Do these cost much more than standard massages? I want her to feel at ease and I know her body is under a lot of stress. I want to treat her to something nice for what she's doing.

Adiemus said...

This stanza:
you are building this house, and these, my hands,
are yours.

Tears in my eyes, Dale. Touched more than a body, touched my heart.

Shanell Custer said...

What a beautiful poem. I feel very privileged that you shared it with us. I also can relate because I have now had two pregnancy massages and am looking forward to my next. It took me a while to find a pregnancy massage in Toronto I felt I connected with, but I did and it has made such a difference.

Shanell Custer @ Sage Health and Wellness

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