Tuesday, November 27, 2007



I sit
in my office, see
shadowed spikes of palm
against stone walls
by noon-drunk sun.

I am waiting for a baby. Not mine,
you understand, that is not in my contract,
but the baby of the woman
who lies gasping
unheard, unseen, around the corner. Her baby
(I imagine – all these things
are imagined) sits, cheeks cradled
in her pelvis, not knowing
which way to turn, not knowing
that the correct way to enter the world
is look both ways, then head first. Too late to turn now.
It listens to the pained panting
of its mother’s heart, feels the roof
of her diaphragm tapping
staccato beats onto
the small wet muff
of its hair, like urgent rain.
Its feet are cold.


I sift and sort words
read pages, feel the breath of my pager
drawn contracted on my hip.
There is a square of blue sky, a tree
shaking its head and laughing
through my window. The sea
is very far away.

This baby, you understand,
is not my responsibility
not yet.
I am not the midwife
my hands do not slide slippery slime
up between the red thighs,
the warm something poured into
a metal bucket on the floor,
they do not touch
the still white toes resting
in the perineum
as if waiting for a late bus.
I only watch
do not move
do not clang together giant tongs, lifting,
lifting the gray morsel
into the still world.


My mind turns lazy in warm liquid
squeezes out of salt-slung ocean
spreads gasping on a towel
after. There is sand in my mouth, sky
licks me warm. The shrill
page pulls me feet-first
back to life.

He (for now we can see
that it is a boy) lies naked
on my towel. His tongue lies unmoving
scarlet on white
lungs stunned, heart on snooze.
He is an unfolded nautilus
still dreaming under
the sea
listening to the slow
crash of his mother’s heart, the pulse
of the mask on his face. I push
each square digital second
into his chest. Time
clings like mucus to my fingers.
At last he coughs and breathes.
His heart flutters, caught
under the membrane
of my stethoscope.


I sit
in my office, pushing
words out
with patient contractions of my pen.
Somewhere in the hospital a mother
breastfeeds her newborn. I write.

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