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Poem: 10 Centimeters As Measured by the Midwife's Hand Penned by the Writer's Hand 

With woman
    I write
the story of a birth

a circle
    inside a circle
        outside a circle

to see I close my eyes
to hear I become silent
Her noises come—
The breath steadies—
My eyes trained on the shadow
My hand holds the instrument
loosely on the page
My hands are the instrument
to measure her openness.

It is not a diagram on a page or even
    the words written here.
It is not string crocheted around a rock
    or stitched into cloth to describe
the circumference the way it was when we were
    learning to gauge.

It is
the dynamic opening of a physical soul

                                                             and it hurts like hell.

How far do we open and for how long?

Long after our cervix has closed and the afterpains
    have stopped pulsing.
Long after we have played milkmaid and our weight has
    returned and we live in our bodies for ourselves again.

And long after the pencil grip
and the pen has left the page and the book is closed.

A circle inside a circle outside a circle.

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Speaking of Birth, circle

  • A poem by H.D. Stubblefield


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