Confinement, it turns out, is just another word for Waiting. A LOVELY passage from Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children comes to mind; Saleem narrates his gestation during the monsoon in the summer leading up to Indian Independence:
By the time the rains came at the end of June, the foetus was fully formed inside her womb. Knees and nose were present; and as many heads as would grow were already in position. What had been (at the beginning) no bigger than a full stop had expanded into a comma, a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter; now it was bursting into more complex developments, becoming, one might say, a book--perhaps an encyclopaedia--even a whole language... which is to say that the lump in the middle of my mother grew so large, and became so heavy, that while Warden Road at the foot of our two-storey hillock became flooded with dirty yellow rainwater and stranded buses began to rust and children swam in the liquid road and newspapers sank soggily beneath the surface, Amina found herself in a circular first-floor tower room, scarcely able to move beneath the weight of her leaden balloon.Rendering the gestation of the fetus as punctuation marks that soon wiggle into words which then worm into larger linguistic passages until the baby is a book: this is a trope that appeals to me very much, but only intellectually. At a sensual or corporeal level, I find the trope impotent. Why? Perhaps because language is the only access that men have to the mode of creation that women's bodies are capable of, but language alone is insufficient to capture all the sensations associated with growing a life inside. The trope of baby-as-sentence, and then encyclopedia, calls to my mind Anne Bradstreet's poem "The Author to Her Book". Here, the woman poet likens her hard-won literary product to "ill-formed" and fatherless offspring, a homely metaphor reflecting the difficulties that early women writers underwent to be taken seriously as writers. For Rushdie, who mediates the world through such a masculine density of word play pyrotechnics, the trope seems somehow gutless, or maybe just unearned.
Endless rain. [...] Trapped beneath her growing child, Amina pictured herself as a convicted murderer in Mughal times, when death by crushing beneath a boulder had been a common punishment... and in the years to come, whenever she looked back at that time which was the end of the time before she became a mother, that time in which the ticktock of countdown calendars was rushing everyone towards August 15th, she would say: "I don't know about any of that. To me, it was like time had come to a complete stop. The baby in my stomach stopped the clocks. I'm sure of that. Don't laugh: you remember the clocktower at the end of the hill? I'm telling you, after that monsoon it never worked again."
Better than punctuation: Amina continually refers to her growing baby as her little chand-ka-tukra (Rushdie kindly translates the affectionate nickname for English-only readers as piece-of-the-moon), the crescent moon image a more luminescent iteration of Saleem's own image of the fetal comma. Here are some of the little things I've been stitching for meri chand-ka-tukra.
Folks who know me will not be surprised to note that a cross-stitch has begun to evolve. First there was one mouse, and then there were two:
Then Bib-apalooza 2011 started. The bear bib is backed with calico and quilted; the bee bib uses trapunto to make the image stand out (a trick Grandma Adele taught me when I was about seven), then it is backed with more calico from my incredible basement stash.
Finally, a stork!
The stork pattern came from a book called Sew It, Stuff It! by Rob Merrett--a little something I picked up at the Los Angeles library after an MLA interview at the Biltmore last month!