Bringing You Up

Bringing You Up

for Zephyr

Original Text
The Moment Coming: Poems by Margaret Christakos (Toronto: ECW Press, 1998): 79-95. PS 8555 H753M65 1998 Robarts Library
Bringing You Up
1I take you by the hand and pull you
2yank like I am ferocious
3& really meaning it I squeeze
4the cloth at the back of your shoulderblades into handles
5to lift you
6so you will move
7you will
8move if
9I have to carry you the whole goddamned way so help me
10I have a well planned day of definitives:
11to get to the bank machine streetcar you to daycare
12then to work this
13I plan things
14to work smoothly
15& your legs know how to move things up in the world
16a small chopper raising fury I catch on my shoulder
17bawling head first no no nor justice
18just one heart muscling in the gutter
19how far mine sinks before boarding us both
20to meet triumph in the driver's eye
21where I see ourselves merely
22a bright mess of primary wills
23before that steely & incontrovertible
24look you give the public
25bringing your mother up for scrutiny yes
26up to something measurably
27good again
1What the arms can do for you
2now that you are thirty-four pounds
3one third my ideal weight
4one quarter the real thing I have become
5quite impossible
6What I can lift to my chin to kiss half asleep
7What I can wrestle from sidewalks
8when you pretend to be mineral
9What I hold clear of you when the shit hits my hand
10& I loathe it
11the shit I hold in like a muscle structure
12well-toned at the Y I am this wholly
13abdominal character
15With every repetition this body impresses me to
16no end
17how I carry you one kilometre in the snow without coffee
18or chocolate
19without sex in the morning or the squeaky clean night
21when what matters is the obviousness of exhaustion
23how the brain's role in reproduction really must be
25until inevitably on this matter the eyelids
26flit up
28the set ending
The Shit
1After fourteen hours
2the midwife suggests an enema
3to make more room for you
4as if all the shit in my life up to now
5is on its way out
6& in its place you will come
Way Out
1For example I could live on another planet
2but nursing would suffer
3& the milking blister on your top lip
4would deflate
5harder to begin again with a fresh perspective
6Close up to you
7I can't find a way out of your gaze
8brown universe where all colour visiting
9decides to stay becoming
10some of your spectral
12That for now sums me up my usual
13in-your-face attitude on your way back from sleep
14be assured I'm there again
15milking you awake
16& gazing
17no way out of me
18though you may wish it someday
1The pink blaze of your buttocks punishes
2me too, though you feel it realer
3cries reeling from your mouth
4sobs that turn to coughing
5The special blanket, well operated, wraps you up
6its hand-sewn stitches hold you together
7though our friend made it, not me
8disarmed for months now
9by suffusion in the red nakedness
10you present to me three hours later
11again I'm so sorry
12I couldn't sew a thing
13except this burn of lousy mothering
14to my cheek
15the red one on each side you
16see me wearing nothing at all through
17yet hold me to the moment coming
18when pain stops &
19suffers our excesses such
20little children together
23wrapped in blankets
24Hair of the womb that
25bit us one and the same, what's
26the difference
The Moment Coming
1What precipitousness there is between the words moment & mom
2the eternity I've slipped into
3sperm into the egg
4on mutual orgasm my baby
5finger into his ear
6which made the occasion particularly memorable
7him plugged up, ready to pop
8me laying in the member
9neither of us having been exactly so obvious before
10about the universal
12you will unhinge
1Or the other words
4by silicone
5those two bits of my body
6infinitely reproducible
9if you just say the word
10the loud one
11the waah
12a whole industry will answer
1Holding ourselves back is de rigueur
2your mouth on my breast could bite as easily
3& I could swell with erotic desire
4or vanish, instead
5You coax me toward the common interest
6the human problem of growing up
8drag me by one nipple to a reckoning
9with how sexy we are
10soft breast your eye is up against constantly
11eunuch skin of your cheek, bellows I adore
12in a cycle of puffing, sucking
13chuffing like a pony's nostril as it labours
14around the demands of a premature bridle
15this new & more appropriate morality
16where my tit is a temple now
17around which we gather & gaze & supplicate
18The suspense of feeling
19is killing me sometimes I think
20I will forget where I'm leading you, lapse
21& feel it
22& have to pull you off quickly
23away from who I've been in the world up till now
24before I installed my heart in my mouth
25& came here like a virgin
26to serve you
1Your body giggles in the jumping device
2in practical bliss as we've planned it
3cushion catching your ankles
4springing you back up to weightlessness
5& so it goes
6the kind of parenting we provide as we scuttle
7in the sheets, ass-naked & deliberate
8about) arousal (we have forgotten everything
9outside the parentheses of platonic love
10or do it badly now
11only one eye each on the other's hard on
12the second consumed in your all-seeing gaze
13whose dear focus the sight of us like this might
14split irremedially
15despite the consensual barricade of pillows
16we try to protect each other's fucking
17huge genitals from bouncing up over
18while still enthusiastically pursuing what
19we did to make you
20not knowing whether you will ever let us
21find it again
1As you come through the canal
2I feel like a football player, huge neck muscles
3hauling my entire brain far down
4to where it lived in primordial days
5in the pelvis
7shaped like an infant's head
9the forces of history coming
10The history that will make it ascend, board its
11evolutionary lift up through the torso and ribcage
13running out, nudging it off kilter, then
14dull & overstuffed for a few centuries
15idle at the throat, a calcifying lump not quite sure
16of its trajectory,
17if there even is one
18if it's worthy
19how the hell it got here
20until reverse hydraulics begin squashing
21beyond grunts more like modern linguistics it
22bursts through to the roominess
23inside the back of the head
24my entire head readied like a hand
25about to cast you out the top
26giant whistle into oxygen
27for the first time
The Hell
1Of seeing your father in you
2when I am angry at him
3your eyes flashing from side to side
4between us
1Things in the public park we attend
2are deteriorating
3The government cares little about
4those who are wageless
5Pigeons and squirrels appear to be
6living with AIDS
7Your fingers wrap right around the elephant
9& your feet hold you vertical
10I see you
11at the top of your slide
12the high one
14I Fucked Maria boasts the wall
15Fuck'n Shit For Brains sings the jungle gym
16I see you
1Rather than brawn
2to make a man of you
3I choose the story of how I skated
4around a lake at night
5searching for love
6In high school I had so many
7brains in my head
8I couldn't speak
9& gave these smiles to boys
10meaning I can never have you
11can I
12small yawn in my lap
13your intelligent brain over
14my intelligent cunt
15I want to graft you to me
16as if you won't become
17soon enough
18one of the inpenetrable
1Songs I make up for you are sung then
2a dark voice is how you will remember me
4If something should happen to you
5these are the songs I will remember you laying by
6a night without light never able to sing
7in the dark again
8If you should travel beyond my voice
9I shall find you, said the mother rabbit
10in complete control of the rabbit universe
11while I sing to keep you
12as barely awake as possible
13From your sideways gaze through the rails
14my body shaped like wicker
15& glowing in the corner
16ghosts over to the last thing
17you shall hear
18if I have to sing until midnight
19said the mother rabbit
20you shall hear my pure self
1If all of the parents
2love their children
3the way we love you
4then the world is far more
5unbearable than
6we think
7in our newly shuddering skins
8raw as adults
9trusting in you to change us


6] sacrum: triangular bone on which the pelvic column rests. Back to Line
8] caput: caput succedaneum, "temporary oedematous swelling on the presenting part (usu. the head) of a baby during birth" (OED). Back to Line
12] apatosaurus: popularly, the brontosaurus, an extinct dinosaur. Back to Line
3] Echoing the old children's prayer:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I shall die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Back to Line
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Ian Lancashire
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Copyright © Margaret Christakos and used by permission of the poet. Authorization to republish this poem must be obtained from her in writing.