Giving birth is like jazz, something from silence,
then all of it. Long, elegant boats,
blood-boiling sunshine, human cargo,
a handmade kite —
No longer a celebrity, pregnant lady, expectant.
It has happened; you are here,
each dram you drain a step away
from flushed and floating, lush and curled.
Now you are the pink one, the movie star.
It has happened. You are here,
and you sing, mewl, holler, peep,
swallow the light and bubble it back,
shine, contain multitudes, gleam. You
are the new one, the movie star,
and birth is like jazz,
from silence and blood, silence
“Neonatology” from Crave Radiance by Elizabeth Alexander. Copyright © 2012 by Elizabeth Alexander. Used with permission of the poet.
This poem was originally read in the On Being episode “Words That Shimmer.”