Today I am going to a benefit for Jinny Erdley, the midwife of not only my last child, but my first grandchild. She has lost her right arm to cancer. I spent the morning looking for, and finding, a poem she wrote to me in 1985 in response to one of my poems, and to being such friends in the ancient and loving mid-wife/mother/baby bond. I was thinking that knowing Jinny, losing will be the new whole. The newspaper article said she hasn't gone out much, but is figuring out how to knit and cook. I recall when she came to check me after Hope was born, there was goat shit on her top, and some straw, and it felt so whole and holy and New Mexico casual. Here's to the kind of wholeness that has missing parts, and still is filled with life force.
Now the baby of mine she delivered, Ana Hope, is in the field of infant and mother's health, a doula who provided emotional and practical support to women in Norteño land, working for Tewa Women United. I am inordinately proud of her, as I am all my three kids, and the three grandkids. I think during the first two kids the poet was the missing piece. I stopped writing until both were back in school. Too many deep places in me where my mom was at work. So the face was watching them, but sometimes the mind was missing. And then by Hope I was in my writer's life again, and my mind was definitely missing. She would read my face and get on my case for being a drifty and dreamy sort of mother. She had to share me with my career.
Now, I have another kind of wholeness. Just when I was ready to pack up shop and close the door, I get two years in a sweet and dreamy fast lane. I will be driving to town a lot, promoting things so someone shows up to events I have carefully planned,
and not an on-call grandmother. I will be missing, a little, in order to be present to my poetry life. Front burner, back burner,
my stove has five in all. Often there are several at work. But right now and for the first time, I am feeling like the poetry gets to be primary, for these days, or weeks, or hopefully two PL years that extends into the rest of my life, what I always wanted seems to be saying, "Come on Down..."
My dear Jinny has this patch in her life, I have a sweet time after the troubles of my 50's, my husband has retirement after working since he was five on the dairy farm. Every fullness alive has what is missing right up beside it. I am wish Jinny an impossible next phase, where she who has brough 1,000 babies into the world is brought 10,000 inspirations and joys.
Last summer we both were at a conference and it had been so long we didn't recognize one another, old women. It didn't make us sad, this is not Hollywood, it made us laugh.