When she delivered him, occipito posterior, the back
of his skull cradled against her sacrum,
when he crowned, face up, chin up,
it was her father’s chin, her father’s
nose, his broad strong Scotish countenance.
My father was there, wearing a hospital mask, ear to ear,
stretched across his face like a sheet spread at birth,
she would say later it was the first time
she’d seen him cry, her husband.
Then the doctor stepped in, intermediary
of the gods and mortals, the light on his tools glistered—
the scalpel, the forceps—and he began to cut the thinnest skin,
wing of a butterfly—the epithelium, the perineum-
he sculpted an ingress to this world—my brother in bardo now—
like a soul escaping through the top of the skull,
that sacred passage, he was pulled into this world, the length
of his body covered in the silky lanugo of the womb,
shoulder and shoulder, hip and flank,
his wet plump limbs struggled forth
and then the umbilicus, tether to the immortal, was cut,
he made them work for it, my parents, he made them labor
to bring forth his nativity.
The morning of her first big audition, she leaves
early, I help carry her equipment to the car—
tuning key, bench, music stand—the harp,
the instrument of Orpheus, is loaded last,
its gilded crown points east where the sun will begin
its ascent in an hour, it is still dark outside, Vega glowing green
at the top of the world, and my youngest is speaking to me
in the language of music we both know, fluently,
about sound and rhythm.
This morning she borrowed a pair of my shoes,
her soft rounded heels slipped
into my tens, comfortably, and now as I re-enter the house
alone, the lights are still on in the practice room,
there is still a thrum in the air, this vibration that is not matter,
this measure of what is here, and then is not here.
When I wrote I delivered him
I meant that I brought him forth,
matter and mass, prolific, buoyant—
the blastocyst and the trophoblast—
his small amphibian tail
giving way to limbs as he floated
as though without gravity,
a luminous body, suspended in the dark welkin,
tethered only to the placenta,
that rich, fertile planet.
For a billion years the sky was dark,
celestial bodies shifting, and then
the stars came out, light by tiny light
they dawned, the hydrogen and the helium,
the sky lucent, now, when I wrote
I delivered him
I meant that I delivered the universe,
from within me, the cosmos,
I brought light into the world.