Cradling

I stand in a room without walls. Strips of hung paper from the
Past seventy years quiver from the joists.
In the center, a rough oak table is pressed by grinning friends and relations.
The table is scattered with treats
Carried from a scarred porcelain stove.

I feel the bundle’s warmth gradually intertwine with mine,
My forearm greets the churning of small legs,
And I accept them as my own.

Through the streaked pane of a solid double-hung window,
Recently bared of its weary paint,
I envision the eleven paces one year ago from the car to the house,
and my urgent grip on the papers embossed by a lawyer.
I race against the downpour with bent head and sole-squeals.

More precious than my grizzly head were these papers,
More worthy of a legacy than the leather shoes I dredged from the closing.
Arrived finally in my new home, raindrops from my coat still pommeling the pine floor,
I uncradled the packet to make sure nothing was smudged.

One is drawn to gaze at what one cradles.
I retrieve the child from some well-wisher,
Slip a palm beneath his head and become the whole universe of this unfamiliar creature,
Become a presence to the wide pupils that sweep me into their field of vision.

Now we share points on a simple harmonic scale,
The overtones traveling through my chest and arms and lips.
And the baby responds to my resonance.

This poem was published in the October 2022 issue of The Bluebird Word.

Andy Oram
June 11, 2022