Rising to Meet It
Pain is the salty element.
All that night I lay
tethered to my breathing. To the pain,
the fixed clock-stare of the walls,
combing my tangled hair.
"Ride out the waves," the doctor said.
The first time I touched a man,
what startled me more than the pleasure
was knowing what to do.
I turned to him with
a motion so firm it must have been
forming inside me
before I was born.
I was swimming upstream, the body
solid, bucking for breath, slippery,
wet. An ocean
rolled off my shoulders.
Tonight, strapped to the long night, I miss
pain of childbirth—
No, not the pain
but that rising to meet it like a body
reaching out in desire, buoyant, athletic,
sure of its power.