Excerpts From Your Baby Book

Poetry / Catherine Theis

:: Excerpts From Your Baby Book ::

You sleep for an hour. 
The bird flutters by the window’s screen just as you stir awake. 
I feed you again, hoping you will fall back asleep. 
You are quiet now. 
You are crying now, matter-of-factly. 
There is always a touch of the menace in the imagination. 
It’s hard to understand. 

The loneliness of the long-distance swimmer is like the loneliness of the mother. 
I hear you cry in the film’s soundtrack. 
The short film is usually in black and white but your cry is always color. 

Poems, babies, I have milk. 
I have loaves of bread, wheels of aged goat cheese 
and a bruise you would hardly believe. 
I have a small barrel of red wine ready 
to be tapped after seven o’clock 
and an entire dishwasher of stemware piping hot. 
I have an advent calendar with twenty-five tiny doors opening 
into a hallway of pure celestial light—

The facts of today: 

I buy a singular persimmon nicked by your teeth. 

I bring permission to myself to begin again. 

I whip heavy cream for a dessert custard of persimmon. 

The custard so sweet I don’t add any sugar. 

Your bumblebee hat still fits, so. 

The slide at the playground an entirely new experience. Have we officially exhausted the swings? 

I hold onto your tiny torso while simultaneously letting you slide down. You look the part of a young bumblebee. 

We buzz on home under the pink toxic skies of Los Angeles. 

I buy a second persimmon from Bob’s Market. 

You get to work immediately, scoring its smooth orange skin with your luminous front tooth, a surprising ferocity. 

Your fist smaller than the globe of fruit.

Closer and closer you inch toward 

the spinning center of creation. 

Your preferred method of transport 

the whirling, lurching see-saw of swing. 

Your clothes grow tighter. Two colds, 

one with one cough. We wash blackberry 

stains from your booties every night. 

Birthday celebration? Champagne, 

oysters, blackberries?




From the writer

:: Account ::

I decide to write again out of the nothing. 

The appro­pri­ate amount of time has passed. I have griev­ed enough for my body. The world glows in spring­time green. I almost for­get how quick­ly the hem­or­rhage began, how many pints of blood I lost that day or how the doc­tors and nurs­es didn’t even have enough time to warm the trans­fu­sion blood. I’m O pos­i­tive. One of the ancient blood types. Var­i­ous mys­tics and heal­ers have sug­gest­ed to me that it’s ben­e­fi­cial to eat red meat and greens. This doesn’t sur­prise me. I’ve picked my fair share of bit­ter dan­de­lions from the rocky moun­tain­side with the wind blow­ing up my black skirt. I do try to eat a nice steak at least one a week. Just like I try to write at least once a week. Also raw oys­ters. What­ev­er min­er­als I’m miss­ing, I crave the creamy flesh of oys­ters like you wouldn’t believe. 

I read some­where that the preg­nant woman’s brain shrinks, and that it takes a full six months after the baby is born to regain its orig­i­nal size. 

I have rough­ly two more months to go. 

My sis­ter tells me this is not true. A woman’s brain after hav­ing giv­en birth actu­al­ly grows in size. But we both get some ver­sion of the sto­ry wrong. I final­ly read an arti­cle that describes the loss of gray matter—specifically in the part of the brain that con­trols social interaction—as a process called synap­tic prun­ing. This prun­ing is not a loss of abil­i­ty but rather an indi­ca­tion that the brain is becom­ing more spe­cial­ized. In oth­er words, the gray mat­ter in the mother’s brain changes so that she becomes more attuned to the social cues of her baby and less atten­tive to the cues of those bit­ing flies around her. 

I always keep a fly­swat­ter with­in reach now. One hangs on a hook near the kitchen sink. One hangs in the laun­dry room. I saw anoth­er one on the din­ing room table just the oth­er day. 

That’s a cal­en­dar with the moon cycles,” I tell the baby, who eats his stuffed fire­fly we have named Blu for no oth­er rea­son than we like the sound of the word—blu. The baby sits upon a tuffet on the counter while I nar­rate the mak­ing of the cof­fee. Eat­ing his curds and whey, eat­ing his curds and whey. 

He moves his lit­tle neck. His eyes fol­low. Then his arms stir. He moves in pieces, in parts. A tiny red porce­lain spoon taps out cof­fee grounds into a red cof­fee pot. I nev­er noticed our fetish with red kitchen appli­ances and uten­sils. I’m let­ting his father sleep in this morn­ing. I can han­dle the first round, I think.


Cather­ine The­is is the author of The Fraud of Good Sleep (Salt Mod­ern Poets, 2011) and  the chap­book The June Cuck­old, a tragedy in verse (Con­vul­sive Edi­tions, 2012). Her recent pub­li­ca­tion is a full-length orig­i­nal play called MEDEA (Plays Inverse Press, 2017). Recent poems have appeared in Pre­lude and Quar­ter­ly West. Forth­com­ing poems in Fir­ma­ment.