Bursting into new life

When my baby was born, I read while breast feeding. My mom, who had previously been banished from my home by my husband, was welcomed back to help care for our jaundiced baby. She would read to me, or I to her, while the baby sucked away at my breast. It was profoundly peaceful, and healing. 

One of the poems I read was from a book my best friend gave me to celebrate new life: Mary Oliver’s New and Selected Poems. 

This is the poem fragment that gave me courage to leave a dangerously bad marriage.

Rain. (Part Seven)

At night

Under the trees

The black snake

Jellies forward

Rubbing

Roughly

The stems of the bloodroot,

The yellow leaves,

Little boulders of bark, 

To take off

The old life.

I don’t know

If he knows

What is happening.

I don’t know

If he knows

It will work.

***

I read that, constrained in my old life, knowing I was bursting out of an existence that was too small, too tight, painfully restrictive. I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know when, but I knew that eventually, to survive, I would need to leave my husband. 

I identified with that snake. Something was happening. (I was a mother. My protective instincts that had dulled for myself were sharpened again.)

“I don’t know if he knows it will work,” I read, and I suddenly knew.

It would work. 

I would leave my husband, safely, and leave the skin I had outgrown, the life constraining me.

The home, the husband, the job, the life–a mere shell, a skin that I am bigger than. In the natural order of life, snakes outgrow their skins, they shed them, and grow a larger one. The snake may not know what is happening, but the natural order takes over.

Time to shed my skin. 

It will work. 

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