Monday, October 4, 2010

{Bringing Up Boogie} I Gave Birth To My Son, But He Gave Me Life

Bassey and Boogie—It's Love.


A few years ago when he was two,  Boogie was so very sick.  He would be lethargic and unlike himself every day, and every night, his fever would spike to 103. And I was terrified, not only because I didn't know what was wrong with my son, but because I was a have not. I had no money. No insurance.  If anything happened to him, I had no idea how I was going to afford to make him better. Exhausted and wracked with worry and guilt, I started thinking about how maybe Boogie would be better off with a family that could provide for him. I was extremely depressed for a number of reasons and feeling incompetent, feeling like I wasn't capable of caring for my son, was the last straw. And then one night, after we both fell asleep, I had a dream that Boogie came to me and explained why he was here. It wasn't, he said, about money; we needed each other. I woke up and wrote this poem...

Boogie Speaks To His Mother

you wanted to name me miracle
searched language and love song
for a word that felt easy and
beauty and sweet custard enough
to carry me midnight
and star filled
into this uncertain life

you believed in me
before my eyelids were formed
you been wide saucer gaze for decades
when will you believe in yourself

i remember you belly uncertain
when we grew together
remember your playful push
my kick back
moving towards the music of
your words
remember you poetry
and conversation
you sang Buckley
and Lauryn as hymn

you don't sing anymore
laugh reluctantly
like the music of your joy
will shatter if it meets oxygen

i can't help but take this personally

i hear you talk about this time before me
how you wish you had another moment to
make better choices
prepare a world that would hold me
despite you
but who would I be if you were ready?

not this laughter and starship boy
not this moonstone and rebel
cobbled trickster
not this dreamer
not this child who believes in miracles

you still think you chose me
think that I battled thick
stubborn mass of tangled cell
and blood
to be wished away now

why do you think it matters?
you carry midnight like
the sun be on worker's strike
be easy

you claim 2005 as your "best year"
remember psych ward?
remember blue pills swallowed in tandem
the way your heart broke motor oil
on Brooklyn concrete
remember those unpaid bills
Remember Peter
how your brain stopped
and demanded you waste away
without him?
that was your time before me

Was not fairy tale
and Hollywood picture show
was lost girl directionless
was worry of a different kind
you can revise the history all you want
I remember you motionless
remember you dark of Brooklyn bedroom
willing your heart away

today, you worry that your life
is worthless
I take this personally
I have your face
how dare you tell me it's not beautiful
I force feed you my laughter

Still you worry that you are not strong enough
to mother me properly
the scar that split you open
tells another story
tumor twice the size of my birth body
tells another story
have you forgotten
the nights we spent fused
and doubled over
pain a
lightening stroke against my spine
we were symphony then
crescendo of will
and grit

you wanted to call me miracle
what name will you answer to
if you don't see the god I see in you

you claim this glass shelled nothing
this weak willed pitiful thing
i know you stronger
know you fighting against demons and
doctors to claim me

 you gave me a universe of family
to call mine...

what do you think i will remember
when the decades unfold?
who owns the roof
or who gave me home?
the life you left
or the one you allowed for me?
i am not glass shelled

i am yours
muscled, thick cable of heart and spirit
i am yours

claim i stun your mornings with beauty
i would have no morning if not for you
tell me you know what you did
tell me you know

you pushed for me
and i am here
waging war against your doubt
the same spirit that kicked
your voice around
this crowded womb
pushing for you
fighting like you fought
I am you
at your best

you think you chose me?
today, I give you life.

* * * * *

About our MyBrownBaby Contributor: "Bringing Up Boogie" is a weekly feature penned exclusively for MyBrownBaby by Bassey Ikpi, a Nigeria-born, Oklahoma-bred, PG County-fed, Brooklyn-led writer/poet/neurotic who is the single mother of an amazing man-child, Elaiwe Ikpi. She's half awesome, a quarter crazy and 1/3rd genius... the leftover bit is a caramel creme center. A strong advocate of mental health awareness, Bassey is currently working on a memoir about living with mental illness and producing Basseyworld Live, a stage show that infuses poetry and interactive panel discussions about everything from politics to pop culture. Get more Bassey at Bassey's World.

If you would like to be a featured contributor on MyBrownBaby, email your essays/ideas/blog posts/rants/musings to Denene at denenemillner at gmail dot com. 

post signature


  1. Wow, this is DEEP and I love it. So open and honest. And what great talent! Boogie is so blessed to have you as his mommy :)

  2. Amazing. Brought tears to my eyes.

  3. Again, I am stunned at your ability to express feelings through words. This is almost like Boogie's response to "apology to my unborn". I love it!! Keep up the great work Bassey. You are such an inspiration, wow. This will start a good morning.


  4. Brought to tears. Such an inspiration are our children when we let them be that to us.

  5. This made me cry. I really, really want to read her memoir.

  6. Wow - this was very moving. Thanks for sharing.


  7. Hi, I from Sweden and i saw you today on my TV at Rachel Ray Show =)

    I really liked your blog!

  8. no exaggeration, i am sitting here in tears. this is my life. i promise ms. bassey ikpi, you are beautiful. your words are energy. peace to you and sweet boogie. *walks away to go kiss my baby*


Speak Your Mind Here

Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

wibiya widget