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