Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Giving Birth, in December

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This was a journey polar-ward.
Think Scott, Amundsen.
Doctors, nurses, medical residents
stood round like bears or reindeer
or, eventually, icebergs
(think Amundsen, the Northwest Passage)
in the wildness of an adventure
which, like dying, is not reassigned.
I shooed them away, all, each,
got on my knees starboard,
stared hard at the lighted fir tree in the yard,
and found my North Star somewhere so deep that it hurt
me to think of my loneliness.
Each cell was crucial to each contraction.
Only the mind was fainting, fainting, shushing
the bears while it could still speak,
waving a stick at the green-draped reindeer,
submitting to the part of the iceberg you do not see
(think Amundsen in the claws of ice),
grinding to a halt and becoming body.

Maria Gapotchenko came to the United States from Russia in 1993. Her poetry and essays are published in Clarion and Essays in Criticism. She teaches in the Core Curriculum and in the Arts and Sciences Writing Program at Boston University and is raising three children.

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