Spread out these time creased wings
Reach for the sun beyond
The height where others fell
Her girlhood game of spinning to fall tilted onto fresh cut grass
in snail-paced ancient wonder. This was the miracle
how gravity could hold her. A force grounded counter-
balanced. The perceived stillness of a flying planet
across the arc of time she emptied her calendar
found herself lost her mind. No plan came true
through years of shelter greed justice
crime only a world giving birth to night and day
draw death from life between her suburban church
to the shattered earth her hymnal hit the floor in ordinary time
What if time really were a river?
The Nile, maybe the Amazon and the Mississippi too
All three tied together tail to mouth
Mouth to tail around our lonesome globe
We could travel waves of cherished books
Always another page left to turn
The horizon tuned to play our favorite song
Without a final phrase
I’d just come home from a wedding in Chicago when my friend, about to give birth to her eighth baby, sent me a message that she had contractions pretty regularly. If I wanted to be there to photograph the birth, I might want to come hang out.
There were a million reasons not to go. I’d already been up late at the reception the night before. We’d just rescued a one pound kitten off the highway. Leaving meant my husband and children were saddled with the responsibility of our new ward. I let the excuses swim around in my head a bit and then texted her back:
“I’m on my way.”
The truth is, my biggest reservation was fear. While I’d had my own natural childbirths, one in the water with the assistance of a midwife, they were both in the hospital where I was left alone unless emergency assistance was needed. None of that would be present at my friend’s house. Saying yes meant setting aside my own fear to give her the space she needed to bring a life into this world.
The birth took place in her back yard on a cool summer night inside a pagoda lined with delicate fairy lights and lanterns. Most of the ground inside was taken up with a large pool that her oldest daughter filled with pots of warm water. She carried these pots one by one to her mother, and I couldn’t help thinking of her as a kind of initiate in her own labor. Her husband sat beside the water and rubbed her back when she needed it. Her mother stood at the entrance, her eyes looking up at the sky. She said she’d heard the Northern Lights might be visible.
A little after two in the morning, I watched the moment of birth build to a crescendo. There was blood. The low, primal sounds from my friend as she confronted the doorway of creation with a pain that only belonged to her. She reached down into the crimson water. She threw back her head, arched her back and announced, “The baby is here.”
A mother in full control of the most definitive and fundamental act of creation.
I won’t ever deliver my own baby in the literal sense, but what I witnessed has challenged me to ask myself if I have truly taken my creative actions into my own hands.
We are all much more powerful than we think.
I dropped anchor on other quests
that first night of lightest emptiness
Warmest skin pressed to find
repurposed breast. The smell
of newest newborn breath. A person
formed both young and old
timeless brightest growing child
Mine to hold. Yours to give
Blissful the arc of the arrow
when Fate pulled the quiver of my bow
The hungry mystery. The She. The I Am
Creation’s fertile ground
Do you have room for one more artist?
Give her a home
A woman, she’s an ocean and
the ocean has her moods too
Today, she started stretched out smooth
above a bed of predatory prey. The constant hidden
hunger under sheets soon tossed to billowed waves
I am a woman mixed from the dirt of a lonely planet
with the spit of a lonesome god. I dress up again
and again in the transient practice of life and if
our world’s a stage, then I’ve played
the women’s roles. The hours. The days
To look. To touch. To let it go for what it is
I haven’t lived a saint’s life. I won’t die the virgin’s death
But I have dreamed between them all. The souls
of women. Given breath to the rhythm
in ordinary time