Birth: March 1997

You could touch the head now.
Go on
Go on
Just there. See.
Put your hand down.
Touch the head.

Irritation severs the concentration
Tethering me to sanity.
Tears down walls
Between me and fear.

The world is contracted.
To just this
Perfect convulsion of muscle and blood.
The rupture of membranes
Slow burn of skin-fissures opening to the pool.

I bite my way around the blue rubber.
I hear him laugh at the perfect line of teeth-marks.
The radio is wrong.
There can be no world outside of this:
Where there is no I
Only a lowing, moaning animal
calling to a God who does not hear.

She hushes me and is
Hushed in return.
Let her cry out.

That first time, it was to death.
As I fought against the bloody rhythm of birth.

Now, in this nexus,
meeting-place for life and death
I am Omphalos.
And from my baetyl belly
you are called out.

She casts a line of voice.
Hooks and reels.
Interrupts instinctive expulsive intention.

Little breathes she says.
Now pant pant pant pant

The pool flushes sudden red
And your round head is born into the waters.

Briefly, you hover between worlds
Between dreaming and being.
Until that final shudder delivers me to myself.
And she gently scoops you from the flood
Into my arms.

I hear your father’s sob of breath.
A Robin’s song from the gardens beyond this room.
The tea trolley trundling up the ward.

6 thoughts on “Birth: March 1997

  1. I've never really written directly about their births, except maybe in snatches in a story. I just can't get there. Or don't want to. That animal internal movement, the desire to run away, forget the damned baby, that freaking pain. If I think that for my last I was doctor-free kneeling on a bed in Ghana!

    But I'm pretty good with remembering that champagne high afterwards.

  2. I've tried to write it out before. But 'decency' made me edit it out. Which is such a strange impulse for me – censorship of what is inherently female!
    My Dad delivered my last. I say 'delivered'. I mean 'caught'.
    There's a story in the doctor-free bed-kneeling Cat. I want to hear that one!
    I grew up when I had Meg. All that hippy slushy spiritual clap-trap I laughed at (I preferred punk) came true. I thought I was all-powerful. I was amazed my body could do that (whilst my mind wanted to run away). It was like touching the numinous. Being part of something that was older and bigger than little me – I was continuity itself. The tree of life…
    See. Told you. Hippy slushy rot!

  3. Haha! The hippy phase! I'm trying to think when I was at my most hippy but I don't think my mind ever let me run away with it. That little prison in my head. And the physical ah! Such hard work.. I think the baby scene came out in a story, probably more than I'd like to admit found its way onto the page..

  4. This one caught me off guard; and caught my breath. Loved the lines: “That first time, it was to death./As I fought against the bloody rhythm of birth.”

    It is interesting all the connections between creation: birth and writing.

    Look forward to your next post.

  5. Thanks Glen. I've been contemplating my navel – and I've been lazy with the blog. I attended a poetry reading (see the post below) recently and I really felt inspired. But after the inspiration came a kind of intimidation. Those poets had achieved something I fear is beyond me. I've reverted to writing longhand first in an effort to see if that will help me. The post above is not 'the finished article' – but I felt a need to get something written and 'out there'. The poem came from a 'political' anger as much as anything – that there seems to be an unspoken rule that things like birth are not written of. It feels to me that if that narrative is silenced then we silence a woman's voice.

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