I found a sketchbook from college. There are several, but haven't seen this one for a while, must be about 20 years old exactly. So many drawings are of my young Juliana. I can vividly remember this sequence of sketches.
She was in such a spoiled slumber, way deep in the corner of her bed which was also the corner of two walls. Curled up, still in play shoes and a jacket from having run around outside before collapsing. Her sleep was such an opportune time. Practically because of the stillness and quiet. But such an invitation it was to explore her and to listen to her breathing, slow heaving sighs of needing the sleep so desperately to fuel everything that life would bring. That day, and onward.
I moved around all sides of her. Drawing whatever seemed most provocative from each angle. But it's the sound of her sleeping that I recall most when I look at these. I am grateful that I learned to be a mother during such young, raw, formative years in learning to be me. I have enjoyed the experience with each of my children, as I've aged, no less. And I do look through my sketchbooks and writings from so long ago and give myself a loving roll of the eyes, acknowledging what a fledgling youth I was, an art student no less, where fabricated drama of being such and actual reality necessarily coexisted, but come clean now on these pages. I can still feel what was felt then though, however far reaching.
On nearby pages there are a few photos of her sleeping torn and attached, I am guessing from one of my photography classes. I had written down an excerpt of a poem by Anne Sexton underneath that leaves me breathless reading it even today. Her words are an amazing account of coming to terms with the rawness of new motherhood and also the human spirit. So here they are for you today:
Yours is the only face I recognize.
Bone at my bone, you drink my answers in.
Six times a day I prize
your need, the animals of your lips, your skin
growing warm and plump. I see your eyes
lifting their tents. They are blue stones, they begin
to outgrow their moss. You blink in surprise
and I wonder what you can see, my funny kin,
as you trouble my silence. I am a shelter of lies.
Should I learn to speak again, or hopeless in
such sanity will I touch some face I recognize?