the midwife

By | 1 February 2022

in a tent pitched in a corner of the deck
you lit wax candles
soaked sponges with liquor
infused hot water with chamomile and hartshorn
pointed her to the stool
held it still while she
squatted and her
baby, through gravity, dropped, slimy, into your hands

ignoring the burn playing in the space between warmth and
fire travelling along your inner
wrist, you listened to her eyes, lifted water to her lips, pressed
sponge to brow for

centuries, back on land, you’d answered to the church letting them
know if any mother had killed their child or
conducted a heathen ritual with their placenta

here, far from surveillance and steeples, you
helped my ancestors
return to what the doctor called
a ‘natural state of good health’1 as if

nature might be separate from knowledge from
sponge from tendon

1Dr. Bland, quoted in Sian Rees, The Floating Brothel, p.176.

This entry was posted in 104: KIN and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

Comments are closed.