Mother’s heartbeat soothes Not-Yet Baby, thumping in her womb.
Mother’s heartbeat soothes Just-Barely Baby, pattering through her chest.
Mother’s heartbeat sings out concern and hope and “I love you”.
Unless Mother’s heart beats for someone else.
Unless Mother’s heartstrings get knotted up in something else.
Suddenly-Removed Baby listens, Suddenly-Alone Baby can’t hear it.
Stranger smells different, moves different, breathes different.
Stranger’s heartbeat does not soothe.
Stranger’s heart beats a foreign rhythm,
Hardly-Placed Baby doesn’t know it,
Hardly-Settled Baby doesn’t like it:
misses Mother’s heartbeat.
Stranger’s footfalls come quickly to comfort, thumping on the stairs.
Stranger’s footfalls pace, pattering in the hall.
Stranger’s footfalls hum a new tune, but the notes are familiar:
quiet concern and hope and “I love you”.
And so Stranger’s footfalls begin to soothe.