Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
print version

The Midwife’s Antinomy

I see her now in every human crowd, hardened,
shoulders like two doves in olive skin
diving the body—here’s to looking hateful, kid.

Once on a pier, as I cradled coffee with two hands,
she told me this story as we waited for a ferry
to cross the Straight of Gibraltar.
She explained herself as the process of migration,

a midwife & also fleeing Morocco. You see,
the mother could bring rain through an act of will
which is why four men followed in the rain.
During this delivery, the midwife recited
new birthing idioms, her own act of creation
that helped keep time between contractions.

At 10 cm parturition, the mother’s heart surged
& split & the child wailed into life. But this is what I want

to tell you: with four men surrounding the riad
the one called Bedlam climbs a rail & breaks through
a stained-glass window, the midwife pivots,
facing the death of synecdoche
as he stalks the marble hall

to claim the mother’s body. The midwife escapes
out of an interior garden, & under lightning
hides with the child in a low chaparral,
the idea from a poor film. There they wait out the storm.

I never was one to doubt so I turned
to the wide sea, hot with authority,

not once questioning the lovely child
asleep on her lap. It was easier for her to say
fondness than it was to leave Tangiers.  end

return to top