A warm blossom breeze passes through my tomato rows, spreading thick nature’s pollen, coating flower’s ovaries, choking my throat, a violent cough ejecting spring’s sex. Pulling weeds from their roots, my labor becomes heat, dripping sweat edging my back, panting chest, aching thighs – body feeling the earth, a vigil deep, the work of a lover’s hands – thousands of years of hard trees, thin sprouts, streams, water breaking through river’s dams, filling the valley with sky. This, as my grandmother was, is who I am, mother earth, an inherited breath, sighing at dawn with the blue-necked heron, a rookery in pine, watching the shore where children play.
Gathering my seeds and pressing them into the dirt, dust clinging to my hands, upturned, praying for rain, a blossom breeze, I celebrate my story.
I’ve been working on this poem for a few days as I am wrestling through a very strange new shame that has emerged inside of me: I have been feeling a lot of shame about being a mother and not pursuing anything else. Now that I’m not pursuing a doctorate and have begun to shift my focus away from academia, I am feeling quite a bit of shame that my focus is now on my children, my family, my garden. I’m sure that this is a result of my own pressures that I put on myself. I’m not sure if academia has done a bit of harm to my psyche as a human – the practical needs of my body and mind – or if I have been cynical of myself as a woman for far too long. But this poem serves as a confession of who I am despite my shame.