Originally published in Willow Springs 77
From the author
Notes on “Latch”
“Latch” is the first poem I wrote directly about my son and my experience with early motherhood. The poem explores the idea of “the latch”—the term for when a baby latches onto the breast and feeds—as well as the metaphor of a metal latch for locking a case or chest. I was absolutely amazed that my body knew how to be pregnant and how to make me swell with milk whenever my son needed it.
“Latch” is a tonally cool poem that explores the weird, layered mechanics of breastfeeding. At times, my body was on auto-pilot, machine-like and marvelous (“I sense the metal/ of you and gush // under your clamp”). This is dream-feeding, when my son and my body would force me awake to nurse, propelling me forward to accomplish this singular task at 2 or 4 or 6 in the morning.
A phrase like “my glandular/affection” speaks to the strange, almost inexplicable relationship between the body’s ability to provide food, to become food, and the simultaneous swelling of emotion that accompanies breastfeeding—love, sadness, joy, isolation, etc. I found myself wondering if my love for my son could manifest itself in the production of milk and a desire to want to feed him. It also occurred to me that his unyielding demand for milk (usually every 2-3 hours morning and night, which is not unusual for newborns) was a way that his body enforced our bond and my near-constant contact with him—another kind of “latch.” Of course, there are many other ways to express love for, bond with, and feed an infant. But in those early months of my son’s life, reality and cause and effect warped and bent in their own ways and generated surprising insights.
Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.
Lately, I’ve been enjoying Wilco’s new album Star Wars. I’ve played the song “Satellite” many, many times. When I’m home with my son, I sometimes feel like Wilco is the satellite, or I am the satellite, or my son is, and we are all rotating around one another, singing. And lately I’ve been thinking that poems are satellites, emitting their small energy and receiving it every time they are read. “Latch” appears in my new book of poems about objects, The New Nudity, forthcoming from Saturnalia Books in 2017. [Some of these poems also appear in the chapbook Fountain and Furnace (Tupelo Press, 2015)]. The objects I write about often have a startling, vibrant, and super-charged energy. As I write, I become the satellite, physically and imaginatively rotating around these objects and considering their visceral, sentient lives, though the objects feel like they circle and imagine me, too.
I have also been listening to The Beatles daily. My brother tells me I learned to walk to The Beatles. My father had all these 8-track tapes we would listen to in his rust-colored Cadillac on our way to go fishing at 4 in the morning. He would whistle along (he was a master whistler!). Now that I have a little boy, I listen to The Beatles to share with him my own sense of joy and wonder that I experienced as a child. My father passed away in 2007, and listening to The Beatles with my son also makes me feel like my father is with us.
Other musical loves: P.J. Harvey, James Brown, Aretha Franklin (which my son likes to dance to), Miles Davis (In a Silent Way has been especially on deck recently), Beck, Bjork, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Charles Mingus, The Makeup, and others.
About Hadara Bar-Nadav
Hadara Bar-Nadav’s newest book of poetry, The New Nudity, is forthcoming from Saturnalia Books in 2017. She is also the author of Lullaby (with Exit Sign) (Saturnalia Boks, 2013), awarded the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize; The Frame Called Ruin (New Issues, 2012), Runner Up for the Green Rose Prize; and A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight (Margie/Intuit House, 2007), awarded the Margie Book Prize. In addition, she is the author of two chapbooks, Fountain and Furnace (Tupelo Press, 2015), awarded the Sunken Garden Poetry Prize, and Show Me Yours (Laurel Review/Green Tower Press 2010), awarded the Midwest Poets Series Prize. She is also co-author of the best-selling textbook Writing Poems, 8th ed. (Pearson/Longman, 2011). Hadara is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.