This time of year often takes me back to the days of my sister's sonogram. Not the routine holiday memory, I know.
I didn't actually see the sonogram in December of 2005, but we were in the area, and the whole family went out to dinner on the night that she had it. I think the grandparents were allowed to be in the room during the sonogram too, if they promised to keep the gender a secret.
We travelled to the dinner after the sonogram with my parents. It was just a few days before Christmas, so we had the Advent narrative ringing in our heads: the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, her response. I remember my father saying, "What if sonograms had been invented then? What if Mary could have had a sonogram to see Jesus before he was born?"
That idea haunted my head for weeks, and I began to fashion it into a poem. I worried that it might seem irreverent, disrespectful of both Mary and all parents. But I think that some of the best poems feel dangerous in that way.
On Christmas Eve, my thoughts often return to Mary, that soon-to-be mother, and all parents. My thoughts return to the wonder of life and how amazing it is that any newborns survive--we start out so fragile and tiny.
Here's my poem, appearing here for the first time:
All children appear otherworldly in the womb,
a strange weather system come to disrupt
the world as we have known
it, to rain blessings on unsuspecting souls.
On a sonogram, all children resemble angelic messengers.
They appear in ghostly
shades of green and gray and black.
Complete with fingers and a cosmic
heartbeat, this great mystery, birthed
in passion, sweat and tears,
a bath of body fluids,
and nine months later, a baby
squeezes from the womb, blinking,
staggering us all with wonder.
A Weekend at Chautauqua
3 weeks ago