May 26, 2015

Midwife

Written by Claudia Emerson

Read by Betty Adcock

all the women pregnant it seems
to me in a hollowed out
shadow carved Tennessee farmland

hippie buses and vans our hair
in long braids feathers
woven into them and we all

resist white fluorescence
sterile forceps needles
so I decide to learn it

myself and I do read
old texts study grainy
photographs mostly the babies

come out all right on their own
until I have guided thousands
into these close rooms windows

open to summer or open
to winter to cicadas
or snow a sameness to it

after all the crowning glistening
whorl of hair beneath
the fontanelle iridescent

pulse a well-eye
one that will close that is
already closing over time

I see the rarer cord-
strangled ones too early
or too late hidden twins

ones who come fists first
breeches stills but there is
the one singular one

born in the bread truck
his parents have driven
there they are living in it

broken down beside
a foundation they are
digging out of mud when I arrive

he is already coming I see
first his mouth so like his
mother’s sucking before

he breathes the rest of the head
appears I see no skull
just the brain exposed

before the rush of the rest
of him perfect I have read
about it this thing the book’s

Glossary defines as monster:
mutation saltation freak
so I take him from her

he breathes on his own I let him
he does not laugh
or cry for the one month he lives

though he does make a sound
other-worldly and after
he dies only after do the other

infants in the barn-like nursery
make it for a while echoing
something not quite language not quite

song un-syllabled that vowel that
does not rise or fall, bottomless
in that way, and what they

have learned from him is as though
from some place beyond
that only he among them could recall

become in the raw wake of him
something they must remember
and will in the telling

and retelling they are I am
for a while now
sure this sure of it

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