Full in the hand / Heavy with ripeness

For Maddox

To feel a baby's head for the first time
full in the hand
heavy with ripeness
is a sacred act

To feel the vernix slick
the fontanelles molded
the marble-hardness
the heat of it all

The sensation remains in my hands still
more than twelve hours later

Necessity made me reach down
to slow this baby's arrival
to make him come gently

I called for her to touch her baby next
and she did
but she should have been
the first
to feel her baby touch the air

a sacred first

I will guard this feeling

the baby's wisdom remaining
on my fingertips

“Full in the hand/heavy with ripeness” are two lines from a Marge Piercy poem. I have always loved these lines, and thought that they could also refer to a newborn at birth. But I had never fully experienced that connection until I held Maddox’s head in my hands. Until then... I was never moved enough to spill the remaining lines of my own onto the page.