Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pregnant women lead us into the light

of weight each week, mourn the loss of waist—
jeans too tight to button, I prefer to blossom.
I surrender to coconut salmon in banana leaves,
miso soup with prawns, paella, lasagna, seafood
risotto, mangu and tostones, salads of blueberries,
blood oranges, and papaya, the bloom of belly,
breasts spilling over seams, petals of areolas darkening.

I’ve abandoned the lunch-break park with its tire swing
and picnic of stale chips for the circus, lion tamers,
dogs with purple tutus, magicians pulling doves
from top hats, trapeze artists somersaulting
through the air. I want the Big Top’s pillows
of cotton candy dissolving in my mouth, mounds
of popcorn shiny with butter, globs of caramel
apples, hot dogs drenched in mustard.

Blood thickening and milk springing from nipples
remind me: be open. Enough of this suburb
with its square meals served in look-alike
houses. Give me Paris with its artists scattered
on sidewalks, painted confetti, dancers
in discotheques stretching onto streets at dawn.
With more body to envelop, I’ll browse boutiques
at the Rue du St.-Honoré, lounge sipping café-au-lait,
nibbling a croissant’s flakey layers. Order coq-au-vin
or pot-au-feu, decorate the board with baguette,
brie. Will mousse aux fraises complete me?

If I’d been born with different genes—
petite, straight-hipped, willowy-tall—would I enjoy
fat bowls of kalamata olives, sliced avocado,
desserts of mangoes in cream, pumpkin pie?
I surrender to possibility, to joy, to feasts
of seven-grain breads, lamb stews, chocolate
soufflés. I thank this baby whose growing bones
demand wheels of provolone, sticks of mozzarella,
cubes of sharp cheddar, cups of vanilla yogurt
at two a.m., whose kicks remind me to taste
roast beef, venison steak, the cream of deviled eggs.

Christine Stewart-Nuñez is the author of five volumes of poetry. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in a variety of magazines, including Prairie Schooner, Calyx, Arts & Letters, and North American Review.

The themes of her work range from explorations of popular culture, inquiry into the lives of historical women, and the gendered body to pregnancy/childbirth, loss, and travel.


  1. Lovely!

    For me, being pregnant was so sweet and strange. It was like a surreal, dreamy suspension of the rules--eating in the night, sleeping in the day. During all four pregnancies, I felt protected and invisible to everyone except those interested in children (no creepy men, no prickly ladder climbers), so I felt light and who-gives-a-damnsy and cacooned. It was nice. I did worry about the effect the whole thing would have on my body, though. I wish I had been a little more blithe and philosophical about the weight gain.

  2. Thanks, Rachel! I do think Christine is advocating for that blitheness you wished you had and the suspension of the rules that you did. But I also think we'd all be healthier if we adopted that kind of attitude every day--even when we're not pregnant.

  3. My sister and I have discussed pregnancy and what it is about it that pushes the "pause" button on all of our little devastating obsessions. We both quit wearing makeup with our third pregnancies, wore maternity swimsuits with a complete lack of self consciousness, etc. During those nine months, we both experienced a new kind of dogged self-acceptance, as if resenting the changes in ourselves was tantamount to resenting the new baby, new chapter, new life, etc. Definitely a lesson in there for non-preggo people, including myself.