i warned michelle today would be tough
dakotas first shots
i was an old pro
mom of 5 and all

yet i was unable to stop
the tears flowing
as i tried – embarrassed –
all the tricks i know

bite the inside of my mouth
open my eyes wide
breathe thru my nose only
squeeze the back of my calfs tight

nothing works

my new baby girl
has cracked open my heart
leaving me powerless
reeling and raw

i remember crying at coffee commercials
in 1995 – right after parker arrived
every gurgle – smile – smell
swept me away

“i never knew love like this before
now i am lonely never more”

each and every child
has performed this miracle upon my soul
CLEAR the doctor screams
as we r jolted back to life

and death now
its familiar silent whisper
echoing all around me
a sound tattoo

life and death
love and loss
pain endures
on we go

my freshman college professor
assessing my talent said
“miss o’donnell”
“the part of rhoda morgenstern has already been cast”

i knew back then – in 1980
that i would one day tell her this – to her face
and we would laugh together
as we have

since day one
on a balcony in marys apartment
i have adored valerie
and i still do

it is possible
in one lifetime
to lose
many mothers