"I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin..."
I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belong to me as good belongs to you.
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.
My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.
It struck me, when I read Song of Myself several years ago, that thirty-seven years old, that magical Whitmanesque age, was still in the future for me. How exciting that felt! To know that this wonderful age that was such a pure and boisterous beginning for the bard, was something I could look forward to. To know that I could set forth on new adventures, and sing the praises of the earth, and be wild and merry and voluptuous and bold. Now and forever. and especially at 37.
And so suddenly I am here! That lusty, lustrous, healthy, marvelous age that Whitman sang so heartily.
with 37 blazing candles on my momma's homemade Texas Fudge Cake to prove it.
(and a belly fulla child and a big old smile, and a rowdy little baby at my hip.)
spent the day with my gal pal Lucy.
we did some farm romping, a lot of acorn examining, apple tasting, layer shedding, and of course thrifting.
at night we all met up for mexican food then came back to our house for a little celebrating.
why yes, there is a ball whizzing through the air.
speaking of Walt Whitman, i have a little story.
a few weeks ago our town had the pleasure of hosting singer-songwriter Eleanor Murray from Olympia Washington. She was so gracious and sweet and even spent the night at our house. Anyway, the show that night was fairly early so my dad hung out with Lucy and took her for a walk so I could enjoy some of the music. It is rare for me to get to fully enjoy a live show these days, and I sat there entranced in the quiet little room full of maybe 20 people (all rapt) listening to her soft and wondrous voice. My brother Joey, more familiar with her music, requested a song called "Electric Sky." I had no idea what to expect. She told us that she had written the song for a Whitman class at Evergreen college and she sang it in honor of him. One of my favorite poets, naturally, and someone whose works I myself have studied deeply. My heart leapt a bit in my chest.
She started singing, and almost simultaneously I started weeping. It struck me so deeply and so perfectly for that moment, the way only live music can do. You can listen here. Every poetic joy of being pregnant and being a mother, and most of all of being a wanderer on this earth, alive and free, light up in my spirit with this song. Both Emily and I are putting the song on our birthing playlists.
One of my favorite things about being pregnant is how emotional you become, you feel closer to the mystery, you feel like you are in the waves of a mystic ocean of love and time. You dream of different dimensions. You dream secret coves, nests of earth, bones and blood. You are both alive and completely ethereal. To be with child is to be, for a time, a living poem, a lively song.
Just last night I was cooking dinner and I let Lucy watch the short beautiful cartoon The Snowman while I worked in the kitchen. I like to check in frequently when she watches a show, narrating and interacting so it's not too solitary for her. So at one point when I heard her murmuring and talking, pointing something out, I came in and it was the flying scene with that haunting song "Walking in the Air." I started bawling immediately, as Lucy peered curiously back and forth from my face to the tv screen. I told her," Isn't it beautiful honey, see, they are flying together, they are friends...and they are flying. Now they're out over the water...there's a ship, and there's a whale..." It is so dreamlike and so utterly moving . It's just a children's show, I told myself, and I was laughing out loud too, and Darin called on the phone, befuddled as I was choking with laughter and tears as I tried to talk. I love to be moved like that. I know it could happen anytime, but i feel it deeply in my body and blood when i am pregnant. i never stop being grateful to have had the chance to experience this wonder of life. 37 years old, broken open to the pure heart of the world, i hope i am serendipitously accessing some childlike magic just as i embark fully on my mothering journey. hoping to cease not till death.