Friday, July 08, 2016

Poetry Friday: Midwife

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.
She listens.
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

And listens
And listens
With her whole being.

Ruth, from

Here's today's roundup.


Molly Hogan said...

What a lovely tribute to your friend, the art of midwifery, and the power of listening. Thank you for sharing a bright ray in these dark days.

Tabatha said...

Listening with your whole being is an amazing art. Thanks for sharing this moment with us, Ruth.

Mitchell Linda said...

How itself continues in the midst of tragedy. Your words are hopeful and beautiful. If we all listened just one full minute today to someone who needs to be listened to, what a different world we would live in.

Brenda Harsham said...

We should all celebrate life instead of seeking its untimely end. What a great poem, Ruth.

Tara Smith said...

Listening with our whole beings...this is our collective task, isn't it? Thank you for this beautiful poem, Ruth.

Linda B said...

How wonderful that you were able to be there, and learn from your friend, Ruth, then write about the experience. Thanks for reminding us of the joy of life.

Katie Logonauts said...

What an incredibly intimate experience, rendered in an incredibly intimate poem. Thanks for sharing this with Poetry Friday!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Anything foolish I might have said about watermelon is erased by this astonishing poem, Ruth. Your touch in telling the story is so light and yet the gravity of the message is carried and borne. I am in awe.

Nissa Annakindt said...

I love this poem and it is so interesting to know about someone living in Haiti. We really can travel around the world with our computers these days.

Mary Lee said...

Your repetition of the word LISTEN is powerful.

Bridget Magee said...

A personal poem about a universal experience - profound. Thank you for sharing your experience in such a beautiful way, Ruth. =)