Obstetrics Ward, County Hospital

Mar 01, 2001

Obstetrics Ward, County Hospital - Poetry of the Times

I slam the locker and dial Security.
Across the hall, fifty beds bulge
with the high tide of labor.
Grandmothers with boom-boxes
boogie in the aisles
and sponge breasts of girls
who cry mama, mama, mama.
At any moment one will rise,
heave and stumble
past students and ultrasounds
to the corridor called Labor Line.
Babies burst out before their time
and midwives catch them above the slop
of blood and stool and amniotic fluid,
medical students thrilled by a footling breech,
a four-fingered hand, the drama of hemorrhage,
clamps, forceps and suture dancing
as child-mothers moan mama, mama, mama.
Cleaned and toweled, we give up
babies to grandmothers who live the struggles
of milk and blood on barren streets,
a cradle lined with broken glass and gunfire.
And after legions of new lives have wailed
into this world, I wait for Security's safe delivery
to the parking lot, where the city heaves
its great contractions, and night labors hard
toward morning.
© CME LLC
3/01

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