An Excerpt from Otherings by Allison Cundiff

Birth of the Moon

There's a lip on the bottom corner
of the Harvest Moon.
Almost there like the one inside my body,
the anterior cervical lip, when I was
laboring my daughter here.
“Keep pushing,” the nurse cooed,
her hand firm on my abdomen, as though she could
will me to open, to hold down that pain.

Meanwhile, my daughter.
Her little brown body a frond inside of me,
type O blood, her bones and teeth,
was channeling towards her own life.

Doctor Mary Grimm said, “pull your baby up to you,”
her dinner party interrupted by the hospital's needing call,
my blood on her scrubs, her clicking heels,
her earrings dangling above my pelvis,
her own three daughters at home.

I reached, pulling the baby from between my legs,
the pressure underwater primordial,
pulling like some cavewoman might have,
a knife between her teeth by a campfire.
I raised her from under her pink arms,
our hair the same, plastered wet,
her arrival serpentine, and not so unlike the moon,
round in the otherworldly.
Her slate eyes opened, locked into mine,
seeing before and after, a little
piece of God for me to nurse.

Warm cocoon tucked wet on swollen heartbeat,
swollen fingers, red scream, longest breath.
Thirst and then the bluecream milk,
honey ache in the electric air between us,
our nakedness in the dim warm light of evening.

Then my mother and her mother too,
The family in slow procession, the rosary beads in their fingers,
Passing the swaddled baby from woman to woman,
Welcome, we love you, we love you, little heart.