Why was I born

A year and a half ago, I fell seriously ill. After a 6 day stay in the ICU, I came home unable to unscramble a simple five alphabet word like “poems.” It took me 4 days to go through the final proof of my own book “Mustard Seed: A Collage of Science, Art and Love Poems ─ and sad beyond words. Much, much better now, I have learned to accept a new “normal” with humility and patience without yearning for the woman I was.

Some 25 years ago, I attended a conference in Rome and returned with a statue of the Pieta which has been on my mantelpiece above the fireplace ever since then. The poem below (included in Mustard Seed) comes from gazing at that statue endlessly.

(After Michelangelo Buonarroti, Vatican City, Rome)

O lady, you part your legs,
not to birth the one you grew within your womb,
but to cradle a man–
his buttocks in the hammock of your gown,
your elbow an arc for his shoulders,
stilled temples on your breast.

You gaze at purpled gashes, blood reds, pinks
his body still warm,
your boy crowned king.

For this alone were you born,
For this alone was he born.
O Mary,
Look up from his face.
Tell me,
For what was I born?

One thought on “Why was I born”

  1. Oh, Lalita! How sad you were so ill. Hope you are now fully recovered, although through you poem there streams a sadness that tells me you are not. It is in your honor that I will say the Mishaberach, the poem for healing, this Shabbat. Meanwhile, I am where I always seem to be, and hoping for the best for you.

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