In this way I held you and spoke to you
holding long conversations
my arms caressing my basketball sized stomach
as I told you everything I was doing every day.
You were for that interval detained,
floating dreamlike within your aquarium globe.
I would speak to you whenever the outside volume
became too distracting—-
when the threat of impending violence tensed the surrounding air.
He would be ranting about something
and so I would sit on the edge of the bed and sing to you,
“Don’t you listen to him; mommy loves you”—
my arms around the you inside of me—
placing my palms just where I thought your budding ears might be,
to keep you, I hoped, from hearing his voice.
Once, before you were born
I ran from him down the street
and again my arms desperately held you.
This time they formed a kind of lift, a restraint
against the jostling of juices as I held my bountiful belly
like a young boy who has just kidnapped a prized ripe watermelon from the neighbor’s yard.
Before you were born,
as your first endocrinological seas were forming,
establishing their own recipe transmuted from his ocean and mine,
I did not know then you would memorize those voices,
that you would carry them with you,
an imprint left
before you were born.