As I entered my eighth month
of pregnancy, my grandmother, timeworn
and ripened, exited our line.
Far from home, I received the news
in a whoosh of air, as a warbler trilled
a melody I suddenly understood.
And though there was much to fear,
the awareness settled in me like a deep stream.
She companioned me for the lying-in.
A feral cat crept into the room and stayed
during the long hours of my labor. She
howled as my son crowned, cries louder
than my own, then disappeared. And, just
before he emerged, I reached inside and felt
black curls protecting his fragile skull.
At that moment, I received her blessing and saw
his face, still curled in his confinement, and knew,
as a mare knows, it was time to bear down.
Editor’s note: This poem doesn’t shy away from the grittiness of human life and death. The end of the poem reminds us how to be strong.