Sunday, December 11, 2005

Me MeMe Me Meme Me On Time - Take Three

Ten Years Ago - I am 41. I am my own greatest fear: a single mother -- with a one year old. I am also what I have always wanted to be -- an university professor. I'm still ecstatic over my job: I love my colleagues. I'm not teaching that year. I had received another NEA fellowship grant for poetry and spent most of my time in a place that becomes my second home, Isla Mujeres, Mexico -- after having left the alcoholic poet I was living with after he told me, the day I received my acceptance letter from the NEA: "Well, you know, the only reason you got it is that you're a Chicana." (Yes, he didn't get it.) I conceive my child in Mexico despite two sure fire methods of birth control. My third week of pregnancy, I greet Yemaya, La Caribe, as I do every morning I am there as my little house looks directly out at el Mar from my writing desk, and I hear a voice emitting from the wooden window frame: "You're pregnant, Lorna. And this boy will be. And it will be good." Extremely trippy, as I am not in the habit of hearing voices. But I am. And it is. I've been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Houston at the Center for Mexican American Studies. I am working with a small group of Chicana/Tejana writers I love, including Carolina Monsivais. My time in Houston influences me for the rest of my life. I LOVE TEXAS! I consider moving there permanently, and half-heartedly apply for a position but sabbotage my own efforts. Besides, I bring my newborn to the interview and I am stupid from breast-feeding. I don't believe my body really wants to live there, in the Temple of Petrol, that is. And, it's hot. That March Selena dies. I grieve with the world it seems. I go down to my favorite taqueria and eat tacos de lengua while my baby nurses publicly but discretely under a thin silk Indian scarf listening to my baby's "song": "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" except that I sing it while I'm changing diapers: "Bitty, Bitty Bum Bum." Except for singing, I speak Spanish, exclusively, to my baby. I read Neruda's poems to him every day, he prefers them. I am under the wing of Roberta Fernandez. I'm "housed" in English, in the Creative Writing Program. My office there feels very lonely. When I am not hired for the position in Creative Writing, the students stage a protest and march. I'm on the flyers holding my baby at one week old, his long monkey feet dangling and curling on the side. I look like I don't know how to hold a baby. I write most of BIRD AVE and poems for "How Far's the War?" and Hard Drive. I live in the Montrose area, as I am a lifetime non-driver living in the Temple of Petrol and this is the closest I can get to the health food store. I drink double shots of wheat grass in carrot juice daily as I have discovered chaya on Isla Mujeres, which saves my baby from a miscarriage in process, and I crave the nutrients. I gave birth to my baby (dar la luz) like a cat in my apartment with a midwife and assistants. At 10 months old he says his first sentence. He's checking out a new red sportscar, or something, maybe a Jag, in the bank parking lot in Houston. I say, "Oh? You like that car? Red car. Red car." "Cool car!" He says, with expression. I return to Colorado that summer (August?) where I'm joined by my baby's father who takes an active role as co-parent. He sleeps on my couch in the living room. We've never gotten along. Nor ever loved each other. I believe I will never have passion in my life again. I am resigned to it. Home that summer, I am opening a mound of mail. In it is a letter from the Lila-Wallace/ Readers Digest Foundation. I've just been awarded a surprise grant out of the blue giving me $105,000 along with another $35,000 for a community interaction project of my choice over a 3-year period during which I am not to work -- but do whatever I want. I burst into tears thinking about how I was wondering how I was going to manage my child by myself while going back to work. "Quién murio?" My baby's father asks, "Who died?" I instantly know what I am going to do: Floricanto Colorado/ honor Lalo. I remember a time, long ago, when I dreamt an envelop stuffed with wads of unfamiliar presidents -- a time when I thought Carlos Castaneda was going to help me. That year I carry my baby around with me everywhere in a floral sling and later in a purple back-pack. I do my first reading, a fundraiser for the CW Program at Houston at the McNeil Art Museum; my baby is 10 days old, worn in the sling in front of me while I read, rocking side to side slightly. I go to a party after Sandra Cisnero's reading. I spend the time talking to Paul Rodriguez, the comedian, and he tells me" "This is what it's all about" as my baby sleeps in the sling about 3 am. I take my baby to Spain, to Tasco, to Laguna de Bacalar. I take my baby back to the place of conception and feed him avocados. I take him with me across the country, New York to California and 12 states inbetween. On Thanksgiving I go back home, to California, because I can, just me and my baby. We go to the sea, the Pacific ocean where I thank her, Yemaya. I go to show the sea lions under "Andy's" on the wharf. We get our picture taken with Santa on the wharf, in the California winter sun. I stop a passer-by and have her take a picture of us in the sunset. If I had cards they would read: Have baby. Will travel.


Blogger Kells said...

I loved this post and how in the chaos of it, everything worked out.

I also loved this: "I stop a passer-by and have her take a picture of us in the sunset. If I had cards they would read: Have baby. Will travel."

Thanks for this.


13/12/05 11:04  
Blogger LarissaM-L said...

Thank you, Lorna, for showing us mother-poets-scholars-activists that creativity is an inherent part of motherhood, that creativity is why we mothers have survived (spiritually, intellectually, physically) for as long as we have. Thank you for showing us that the work we do in our poems is an intrinsic part of mothering our children.

1/11/06 13:57  

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