A Letter to My Unborn Child

Life starts in a womb room.
Walls block our way, but we do not think of them.
We push against the sides, not knowing what lay beyond,
Longing to find all the flavour and colour outside of this room that we do not think of.

Life passes us from one room to the next,
a mother not wanting her child.
Childhood holds us too long,
a small room we push against
hoping to crack its shell.
Adolescence is shorter still, yet feels even longer:
a smaller room with black walls of despair and empty promises.
But adulthood… adults, we wish to go back:
Not enough time to love our honeys, raise children—just make money,
And looking back, the rooms always seem larger than when there we were trapped.

Find a road, tunnel, river: whatever analogy you prefer.
See that little light shining at the end?
That is what we all work towards,
but desperately do not want to reach.
Lightposts, walls, tree branches clatter closer as we walk further,
and further, and further away from the first room of our conception
Until we are trapped between a rock and a hard place:
No amount of pushing against the walls makes either move,
and we have no conception of how we got there.
The road, tunnel, river gets smaller closer to that light.

You’re going to miss this,
these wide open spaces where you can stretch your arms
run back and forth, prolonging the trek forward.
The end is so short, so small, so darling
do not run into it.
It will not greet you like a schoolboy when you drop your books,
and when his hand touches yours you may feel the heat,
But that is just a light quickly expanding from heart to fingertips
because it has nowhere to go.
A tree with no more sky.
A child with no more room to run.
A stream finding the lake it has been drawn to all along
then finding out that the lake does not run with under-toes of adventure,
Merely sits.
Stagnant.
Dead.
Nowhere left to go.
Seemingly large and free,
but quite small in reality.

Darling, I do not know you yet.
This is maybe something that you will never get,
But I am afraid,
Afraid of the opportunity I will never forget,
And do not want to regret
never sharing this with you
Or forget.
So, darling, this is my message to you.

Stay in your room until it will hold you no more.
Yes, I do so long to hold you,
and in my dreams, you are already there, but please
The next room will wait.
Explore every corner.
Jump to the highest spaces that you can manage to reach
and if you need a step ladder, always ask.
Do not wait to grow longer legs
because in that next room where the legs wait…
the ceiling is lower. The world is smaller.

There will be times when room confinement feels like the worst punishment
When the world has grounded you, and you do not want to learn the lesson it wants to teach you, but please…
Darling, stay in your room until the door bursts from its hinges
so when you look back, it is not vacant,
empty: a white space filled with “if only”s.

Do you hear my words?
What language do they speak in that womb room, darling?
It has been so long.
I do not remember.
I hope that the day you understand my message to you—
That day when you can read this poem, and comprehend the language of my heartbeats—
the large rooms behind you are already full.
True, I could wait til then,
Maybe, til I know a bit more about you,
But then my message will arrive too late
Like a letter sunk with the ship,
and you have to find it tucked inside a coral reef
Long after empty rooms yawn taunting, empty mouths:
A toothless shark
Just grumbling snarls.

And when you finally do grow
and after we have met
and after, or before, or while you are still in the room where I left this letter to you:
Stay in your room.
So when I come up, you have not flown out the window,
So when I come to speak with you, you are there.
So when I ask what you have learned,
you will not grumble and give me no answer
But show me all the spots in the paint job that I missed
tell me of how the bedsheets crinkle just so when I sit,
and how the window whispers message to you
and contemplate the conception of the world itself.
Darling, this is not a punishment,
but a time to learn.
A time to never miss the little things:
The way the clock ticks in the hall… or doesn’t,
and why sometimes I wish it would just stop
so we could sit together in this perfect moment.
Forever.
So when I ask what you did when sent to your room,
and you come out to tell me,
you will say
“Everything, daddy. Everything.”

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