Category Archives: birth

The shepherds on the trolley

In the midst of all the holiday rush this week, there was an amazing story in our local paper about a woman who gave birth to her baby while on the local interurban trolley. Musing about this story, I pieced it together with a fragment from Philip Larkin’s poem “Days” in the form of a glosa.

 

The shepherds on the trolley

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.
[Philip Larkin]

A girl gave birth in Goshen
on the trolley yesterday
right outside the courthouse.
She said nothing like this
had ever happened to her before,
and to be fair, it was unusual
for all the other passengers as well.
But why on earth was she giving birth alone
in front of that grand governmental bastion?
Ah, solving that question

could drag a friendly conversation
into politics or sociology
all of the dark arts broken free from
anchors in reality. She must have been
on drugs or didn’t use protection.
We raise the dreaded specter
of the welfare state to put her in her place.
But really any proper telling of this holy story
of the bus-born child and the girl who rocked her
brings the priest and the doctor

long before the yard signs and the
focus groups. For here’s the miracle:
we have a child not left behind.
A host of ordinary saints embrace
with great compassion the miracle
before their eyes, this fellow-traveler who dotes
upon her newborn, nestled in a crèche
between the seats. These put to shame
the glad-handing talking heads still chasing votes
in their long coats

with talk of census numbers, tax adjustments,
of sacrifice for everyone except themselves.
Ask the children now, and the neighbors,
with their noses pressed against
the glass – ask them if it matters
even slightly if some
stuffed up suit wields
the sword of morality. They’ll tell you:
every life is sacred, every fresh beginning,
every wave of hope a baby’s first cry yields
running over the fields.

 

What won’t wait

What won’t wait for you tonight? Take the car
and drive like Jehu through each stop sign far
across this sleeping town. Out of the mist
you carom down main, but draw no interest
from the wayward souls spat from Louie’s bar

too late and too far gone, their minds ajar.
No time to ask permission, or to spar
with strangers over places on a list;
     what won’t wait

is screaming at you here! Nothing can mar
such perfect clarity – the morning star
is crowning now. Now! Tonight you exist
only to be held by one tiny fist.
Leave the rest: the things we cannot plan are
     what won’t wait.

None of us are ready

None of us are ready
Tonight. We float in a
Sea of Tranquility
As the tide washes us
In, inexorably.

None of us are ready
And yet it is time. We
Travel after midnight
One hand upon the stars
As a new voice sings bright.

None of us are ready,
Our arms still tangled in
Each other’s hair, we lift
This wet thing to our chest
And say, “This is a gift

None of us are ready
To receive.” And it’s true.
Our swift humanity
Is chastened before such
Responsibility.

None of us are ready,
We are all newborn here.
But there is grace, and soon
Joy as we stumble home
Kissed by the mother moon.

The grammar involved in “none is” vs. “none are” makes my head spin.  I ended up sticking with “none are” though “none is” might work better in some people’s eyes.  Hope you can get past this issue to appreciate the sentiment of the poem!  For friends at the marvelous dVerse Poets Pub.

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