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Midwife


ISSUE:  Fall 2014

The woman saves every heart- or wing-
shaped rock she finds, studding the mountain 

with markers. When the babies don’t breathe, 
when they arrive frail, small enough 

to be cupped in a palm like a bird found 
fallen from a nest, their dusky, blue-gray 

heads too heavy for their bodies, 
she nestles them down into the soft earth. 

Even when there is little—just pulp, 
a tuft of hair, once even a tooth, so peculiar—

the earth takes it tenderly. But for the woman, 
the end comes in blood, nothing even 

to bury. She delivers babies to the holy 
wilderness of this mountain but bleeds 

her own into cloth—no recognizable shape. 
The woman can’t even make bones. 

Burning her soaked and rusty clothes, 
she hears a song in fire and farther off

a howl so mournful, it could be human.

 

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