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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.



Hahn, Susan. Self/Pity. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, forthcoming Summer 2005.