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Poetry and Medicine
October 20, 1999

Obstetrics Rotation

Author Affiliations

Edited by Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;282(15):1404. doi:10.1001/jama.282.15.1404

for Kerstin

Under glaring white light
center stage in your scrubs
you stand masked watch
as the dark head emerges,
ease one shoulder forward,
then pilot the second
(no pulling, no wrenching)
out slides the chest,
the shape, almost the color, of an eggplant,
furled wriggle of arms, legs—
now you search for your own breath
with that of the child,
coax it out,
the self-seeking cry—
flushed in triumph
hand over the slippery prize,
small game, a rabbit,
to be wiped and dressed.
Before supper tomorrow,
day two in the birth room,
in the redoing
you'll turn nonchalant—
as when after maneuvering
for days
one morning you slipped
gravity's grasp,
lurched across sun-striped carpet
on stiff sausage legs
(arms push the air away,
face thrown back laughs
how easy it is!)
by bedtime that evening
you'd become an old hand
at toddling.