Yesterday's prompt over at Poetic Asides was to write a gathering poem and a letting go poem. Mine is a twofer, all in one, and harkens back to the ten years we were emergency infant foster parents for Alameda County here in California.
It seems i had some leftover nurturing i wanted to use. We had two girls, but then i went through a pretty dark time of miscarriages. When that ended in emergency surgery and God slapped me (gently) upside the head to say "Done!" i had an amazing friend who was a foster parent. She always had a baby or two with her, and suggested to me (gently) that i might want to be a foster parent. It took me some time to get far enough past my own darkness to realize that my desire to give love was more related to my heart than my uterus, and perhaps i had been suffering from a simple case of organ confusion.
We dove into the foster care pool.
What a crazy, enriching experience! It opened my eyes to a bigger picture of my little part of the world--the struggles and heartaches and triumphs of a variety of neighborhoods removed from my middle class suburbia. i met people who thought as differently from me as you could get, people whose addictions ran their lives, the relatives who tried to "rescue" them, people who held no value for the child in their womb, and some who wrestled with the decision to give up a baby because they could not afford the two they already had at home so what were they supposed to do about this one?
There were the other foster parents i met too, some committed to caring only for HIV babies, some who seemed to adopt half the children they cared for, some who are still foster parenting well into thirty years worth! There were adoptive parents, both relatives and non-relatives, either fulfilling what they felt was an obligation or a deep desire for a child of their own. And the social workers, trying to find the best answer within the law for that child's welfare, and sometimes having to settle for far less than they would personally choose. It was fascinating and disturbing.
ANYway, the process of bringing a child into your home and your heart is the epitome of gathering, while the letting them go (often to places you personally feel pretty unsure of) is the definition of letting go, often with smiles but often with tears. So here's my poem.
I swaddled you in blankets
and my love
and soothed your cries away
in my arms
and nestled you close to
speaking hope and calm and
and walking circles circles.
I felt the need to fill
with mother love I missed
so when I last would kiss
I’d know hope and calm and
your heart would carry always.
i dedicate this first to my friend Adele, lost to cancer in 1999 but living on in the hearts of many, who started this whole thing for me, and to all the foster families who helped me through those years, and who put themselves in sometimes unsafe circumstances so they could help a child. i am thankful for you all!