In Exordium

*****This was a commission piece I wrote for the composer, Eric Whitacre, about the birth of his son. 


In Exordium

I picture you as a deep sea diver,
an ocean astronaut
floating, still formless,
in the darkness of the deep.

anchored by a thread
through which I am divided into simple single cells,
dissolved into blood and fluid
cycled then recycled in a quiet conversation
of breath and pulse, of water and air.

You skim under my fingers,
a movement across the surface of water.
Fill me full to cracking until something shifts.
Tectonic plates.
The soft stirring of silt and sediment.
The subtle warning of quickly receding water.

You slow-dive your
way to the surface.
Pain comes in currents.
I survive in the air pockets,
in the stillness,
in the spaces in between.

My body mutinies,
expands and contracts
to the rhythm of its own ancient muscle memory,
clenching and releasing like a fist,
clamping down around me like a mouth.

Until I am dragged under
into the rushing silence, where there is nothing
but the weight of water
and the absence of air.

I panic in the undertow.
Push against the pull
until I am worn down
like a smooth stone. and I can’t tell where the surface is
or where the water ends and I begin.
So I just let go and breathe in.

My body clings to you like
like a quickly sinking ship.
You hover for a moment.
A spirit over the water.
I push you up until
you emerge wet and glistening,
a deep sea creature rising from the deep.
You are as whole and complete as a full day.
As separate from me as morning from evening.
I give you your name as you gasp—cord cut.
You rest on my stomach, a new shoreline cresting out of the waves.

I watch you fill yourself with air and pulse and life.
My body—formless and empty as the earth before God divided it into land, sky and sea and called it good.


About Heidi Stauff

Ultimately ending up in Atlanta, Heidi's creative impulses followed many paths. She delivered middle-class, white-girl, angst to tens and twenties of Generation-Xers through the now defunct rock-band, Belljar. She designed hundreds of dresses for Disney-bound little girls. She birthed two babies she now homeschools, lost and then found her faith again, and writes about all of it in her free time: which is usually after midnight with a glass or three of wine.
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8 Responses to In Exordium

  1. Bela Johnson says:

    This is beautiful. Makes me actually recall birthing my girls – a Long time ago, but then again, time is a funny thing. “Clamps down hard over me like a mouth.” I can almost feel it ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And I totally agree with Bela… this is yet another beautiful piece of writing you’ve brought into the world! Thank you!


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