From the Dust of the Centuries

I was expecting my fifth child, and this one was anxious to get born. Too anxious. I was hospitalized to halt early labor and, when released, was sent home with a prescription to stave off contractions for another week. My doctor told me to take the last pill at midnight on 7 February–the anniversary of my husband’s and my first date–and that active labor would begin twenty-four hours later.

It was the evening of February 7. I had been fretting for weeks because I had not been able to carve any quiet time from my busy days to write this baby’s birth poem. Tonight was my last chance to get it written. I put the other children to bed, went to my desk, and tried not to notice my exhaustion.

It came to me that the situation was presenting evidence of a surreal arc that links Past to Present and to Future. How can this be, I mused, a feeling of wonder coming over me. How can it be that the innocence of a first date could link a fifteen-year-old girl and sixteen-year-old boy to this precise moment in time when a precious beating heart would propel an old soul–one that had been awaiting its turn to be born–into the history of the universe?

I imagined holding this new baby for the first time. I knew that I would experience an instantaneous familiarity, and that I would recognize this face and this little person as though it were impossible to have ever not known them.

I finished the poem just as the clock struck twelve. I swallowed the last pill and went to bed. I could almost smell the dust of the centuries as I fell asleep.

The next morning I drove to a business specializing in wedding invitations and worked with a stationer to find card stock and just the right font that could accommodate my lengthy stanzas on one page. Only when the order was finalized could I relax and turn my attention to the labor and deliver experience that would be starting at midnight.

This is the poem that commemorates the mystery of Time as well as the birth of a thrilling little boy we named Connor Bruce.