Mother of sorrows, look upon me now.
There is a heart within my heart, and eyes
within my eyes; oh, say upon my brow
some measure of your certain blessing lies.
Soon enough this pulse will beat alone,
new and unsure within a stranger land,
sharing the exile of our flesh and bone,
watching for sign of some uplifted Hand.
Grant me your grace now to be unafraid,
instill within me music and some peace
so that upon the child there will be laid
already joy before it seeks release,
so that its share of breath is full of light
and will be rich and strong before the night.
to my unborn child
I carry life or death within me;
this little stirring, blind and pushing creature
is the sweet paradox
weighing me down with either joy
Teach me, my little one, the slow acceptance,
whether death or life is borne within me.
I am in God’s hands, and you
in God’s hands
through me –
all of it God’s: the light, the dark,
and this wild, petal-drifting,
child, though I take your hand
Child, though I take your hand
and walk in the snow;
though we follow the track of the mouse together,
though we try to unlock together the mystery
of the printed word, and slowly discover
why two and three make five
always, in an uncertain world –
child, though I am meant to teach you much,
what is it, in the end,
except that together we are
meant to be children
of the same Father
and I must unlearn
all the adult structure
and the cumbering years
and you must teach me
to look at the earth and the heaven
with your fresh wonder.
They are not mine, they are not really mine,
not even in the night when they cry out,
and I, half-stifled with the need of sleep,
stumble awake and go to quiet them.
Not by my grace or genius have they grown,
nor by my merit did I bring them forth,
nor by that sealed and deep-loved partnership;
the light that crowns them is none of my own.
And in my tempers and my discontents
when my own devil mutters and is bad,
I must remember still they are not mine,
not even to deny – but wholly thine.
These poems and others by Jane Clement can be found in her anthology, No One Can Stem The Tide.