In search of a poem to share this Friday, I came across this poem by a Filipino poet- Alice M. Sun-Cua.  Back in the day, majority of births were done at home as assisted by the woman called the Midwife. She was the healer, the woman who knew the mysteries of birth (see Myra’s post on the Newbery Medal book The Midwife’s Apprentice). This poem is taken from the poet’s book: Chartered Prophecies and Other Poems. Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Random Noodling.

This is an arcane language
I speak; to tell of a journey
through dark centimeters
mapping out landmarks
of pulsing membranes,
articulate the distance
of passageways
bony and prominent,
deem passenger
willful enough to navigate
narrowing walls in every
conceivable way.
I am an accoucheur:
a figure as old
as the strange words
I chant, holding the hands
of women keening,
singing through their tears.
There is timelessness
in what I do.
To be midwife is to be
“woman, with woman
assisting,” witness
to a daily renewal.
It is to stand alone
in an inescapable,
intangible, interminable
It is to wait until the birth
of a song.

15 comments on “Poetry Friday: Midwife

  1. I like this so much. Thank you for sharing. I am a Filipino poet too. =P


  2. I like this one, Iphigene!


  3. I was lucky enough to have a hospital birth assisted by a midwife with my first child. Thank you for sharing this poem.


  4. “birth of a song” Lovely ending. Nice to learn of a new-to-me poet. Thanks for sharing this!


  5. haitiruth

    I love that last line, too. There’s a lifelong connection with the woman who is with you in labor.


  6. Lovely poem! I imagine you felt as good writing that last line as we all feel reading it.


  7. Iphigene, this is so beautiful, especially in the first person. I love the line “singing through their tears”. I have read The Midwives’ Tale, based on a very old diary, and loved the story of women helping women. Thank you for sharing this.


  8. It’s beautiful, Iphigene. I love the tautness of the early lines and the breaking open of the final birth of a song. Really lovely.


  9. Yes, as Linda said — women helping women. And the cycle goes on…


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  11. Alice M. Sun-Cua

    Thank you for sharing my poem in your blog, Iphigene! 🙂 Am happy it brought joy to your readers.


    • You’re welcome. It was wonderful finding your book and it was a joy to share . Thank you for writing it. It’s always a wonderful thing to find authors, writers and poets taking the time to read our posts. 🙂


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