I. to a pregnant mother
by Isabel Chenot

Amass treasures for your child.
We come destitute (Job said)
and we're destitutely led
to dark space and sealed

up eyes: give her hours of awed sight
till imagination's mirror
flickers full of dreams to star
hollows of the night.

Amass what a spirit spends
on a journey: foster graces
for the wild-jackaled places
and the shattered inns.

Fill her heart with early gold.
In our years of lesser splendor
we need all our hearts can tender
of the first love we could hold.

II. to the women who (like me) carry infertility

We wandered on a little strand
between the silence, and the sound—
the white snow still, untrodden, and
the ceaseless motion of the water.

The light lay on the edges of the waves:
they were like myriad children who
would rush up, hesitate, and falter
along the margin where we two
were standing.

And all the shining middle ground
was paved with stones that heaven cast down,
‘til the wet sand
shone jasper, emerald, amethyst, and blue.

We wandered on the slip of land,
my gloved fingers in your hand,
and all the stones that heaven lost
I gathered in an altar.

III. from a poor Peruvian single mother of six, who was dying
—from her own words

[k'eperina is a Quechua word for a large woven shawl used
to carry a load tupu is a pin used to hold a woolen shawl together]

If I could hold my body in my work-bent hands
like woolen cloth
that's worn from every jug or bowl or plate

I've scrubbed, that's rough
from every knee-hard hour
I've knelt to scour a floor;

that's warped from hoisting utter weight—
each helpless human need and ache
I carried every day, until

I tore: the strain was just
too much (still I was
taut enough to take another, and another load …)

—if I could tuck
and stitch and smooth the frayed weft trim
(my hair a silver thread),

I'd make a k'eperina,

and wrap you warm with everything I've been, my love.

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