W O M B

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from womb to tomb

ages back
when man and woman first loved
a promise of life took root in womb

as the laboring woman squatted and bore down
only her sisters’ songs and dances sustain her primacy

finally, in midst of the howls of wolves
smell of blood
and horizontal rains
a baby slips into waiting arms
wailing

his chances next to nothing
should the bleeding fail to stop
praying, new grandmother presses hands firm against her daughter’s vulva
praying, new aunties rub the baby warm

praying, new father grounds himself on earthen floors
his restless hands sculpting a lush form
a figure with fullest breasts and hips
so unlike the trembling new mother

praying, new uncles attend the sacred fire
ravenous to devour them all

praying, new grandfather chants softly
let daughter live

when the ruddy clay hardens by fire
the woman’s lover presses its warm form into her clammy palms

at dawn fever breaks
and she feeds and feeds

milk comes
and at her teat her baby suckles

she still clasps the figure in her palm
and as it pushes back on her
she feels her own strength in its incredible body
reminding her she survives
and with her her baby

i broach
where does this figure belong today?
i declare
right here with us

for are we so removed from ancestors
to believe we have come far enough

that we are beyond this beauteous figure?

she belongs ever closer to our hearts
she who remembers all we have forgotten

in our desperation to believe fickle rules of law godly
we welcome ruthless priests as mediators
bleeding humanity in guise of suckling pigs
how far we have come. ha!

how far have we come
far enough away from love

closer than ever to tomb still living

please, hold her tight in palms enclosed
feel the beating of our blood in her
pushing back
pushing us back

in remembrance that love

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