The first hands to touch me
were clinical hands,
as you laid in twilight sleep, mother
drugged against your wishes
by a doctor who “knew better” than you did
what was good for you and your newborn daughter.
Clinical hands passed me
to other clinical hands
latex against my exposed
and innocent skin.
The only child of five
not laid upon her mother’s warm, waiting breasts
Could that be the explanation
for the inexplicable fear of abandonment
that has paralyzed me most of my life?
A fear that compelled me to crawl on my hands and knees
Until I could prop my chin at your feet, willing my gaze to awaken you
without rousing the jealous man who lay beside you?
When I was lucky, your eyes would flutter open
your tender gaze would find me,
and you would open your arms
like the gates of golden heaven
and the grip of those cold, clinical hands on my heart
would be torn loose, banished by the warmth of your body.
We cannot know now
if four decades ago that doctor’s arrogance
disrupted the earliest, wordless bond
of mother and child.
Perhaps it has nothing to do with the consuming emptiness
that has haunted me all of my life.
Maybe it is only a result
of your decision to share that story
over and over again as I grew-up
that created the memories of being taken
from a warm, safe haven of love
to a place of harsh, sterile separation, barren of life.
The stories we tell our children
have a power unimaginable
in the adult world, of logic and common sense.
I cannot blame you mother
for sharing a memory that was painful for you.
I just wish that I could go back and change it, for us both.