Susan Hahn - “O Baby O”

Rock-a-bye, baby 
In the tree top

Random movements so high 
in the uterine tube – 
an overheated breeze blown 
in, the world all gelatin, 
a slow swim up, then 
more cleaving to the lining 
of this world. The top, topped 
with life – excitable bud 
swelling – everything connecting, 
a tiny branching 
bush, blood bathing 
its twigs, suspended in

a watery fluid, the embryo 
holds its shape, molds 
its body on the tree – 
O tree of life – ablaze 
in the garden swing 
of the woman trying 
to temper her own tempo,
while soon baby will 
rock to his own 
O Baby O.

When the wind blows, 
The cradle will rock

In the neural groove 
an unsung song sings on, 
the notochord enough 
backbone to hold 
the silent strum against 
the quiet breeze. 
The cradle understands its own 
O Baby O

determination. The heart
precociously forms its thump,
thump, thump 
while stalked eye cups 
and impocketing inner ears 
begin to locate the which way 
of the wind. The fetus face facing 
forward to face whatever – 
the outside world weather 
of little matter. Now,

he can almost hear the hum
of himself – interior music 
he slowly curls around to become 
O Baby O.

When the bough breaks, 
The cradle will fall,

Fig tree encircling natal mahogany. 
Camel thorn with weaverbird nests. 
Spruce and alder forest. 
Southern beeches, winter frost. 
Swamp cypress. Baobab. Olive. 
Brittle gum. Coconut palms. 
Live oak. Quiver tree. Fever tree. Ash. 
Leaf with drip tips. Weeping willow. 
Everywhere the breaking. 
O Baby O.

And down will come baby 
Cradle and all.

Downward, groundward, the forces 
of the waters push the back 
O Baby O 
of the head forward. Soon all seas 
of earth – rain, sleet and snow 
and those that have dried and hardened
to blister color – will be seen. 
Against the sloping wall 
a rotating goes on to a rhythm –
meeting all resistance as a ferryboat 
shunted into its wharf. 
The boatman across the river

drunk on today’s coins 
sways and jingles 
in his vertigo at the edge 
of his turf, chuckles 
O Baby O .

“O Baby O” appeared in Self/Pity (Northwestern University Press, 2005).  Copyright © 2005 by Susan Hahn.