I spent the day yesterday volunteering at a maternity center here in Port-au-Prince, where I live. I came home to news of violence and death in the United States, and there's been more overnight. I'm convinced that if we all approached other people the way midwives do, it would be a better world. Here's a poem I wrote yesterday about my midwife friend, Beth.
Beth asks questions
And she listens.
She writes answers on the chart,
She calls the mother chérie
And frets about how little weight she’s gained.
She looks at her swollen ankles
And comments on her blood pressure
And tells her to drink more water.
She shows me how to measure the parabola of the pregnant belly
Start at the pubic bone and go up to the top of the uterus;
Not the top of the belly,
But here where the uterus ends
There’s a kind of shelf.
I tell her the measurement
And she listens and then writes it down.
Here’s the head; can you feel it?
That means the back is here, do you see?
Try there with the Doppler, she suggests,
Pointing to the spot as she squirts jelly on the transducer,
And right away
I hear the galloping sound
Of the baby’s heartbeat.
A real hippie midwife wouldn’t use this, she says.
And now I’m holding the fetoscope,
The tool of the real hippie midwife,
On the smooth curve of the belly.
I find the heartbeat
And I hand her the headphones,
But she takes the horn from my hand too.
You hear with your being and not just your ears, she says,
And then she places the horn herself
With her whole being.
Ruth, from thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com
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