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Poetry and Medicine
December 21, 2005

In the Delivery Room

JAMA. 2005;294(23):2948. doi:10.1001/jama.294.23.2948

The pods of the palmetto tree split again
  to offer their red beginnings:
the fronds in furls, the stalk of berries,
  but mostly the idea of a story, in nascence.
Our daughter Elizabeth, born under a caul,
  like the birth story Dickens told on himself
in David Copperfield, some way remembering
  the birthing: his sucking against the membrane
for the first cry. Unlike the saviors of other faiths,
  Jesus came in as a baby, his cry lusty against
the orange of a harvest moon. Brought the promise
  and the weepy-down sadness of the world
tucked between the calm of his skin—
  holding more quiet than a pond of ice
in Allegan, Michigan—and his swaddling clothes.
  Making creation a primal tale (Jesus in his beauty
and doom) seems profound to me now,
  after the Caesarean section. Leslie’s too doped to hold
our Elizabeth. So I do, moving out of the operating room
  and down the ochre hallway and into the world.

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