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I had always thought of birth
As a catastrophe:
Forced from the world of constant warmth and water
To the harsh scrubbed air of Planet Gravity.
Unhooked from the umbilical, displaced
From immortal complacency
To the slaughterhouse of light.
Jumbled by shapes, lost
In the gesticulating air.
Severed from the reference frame,
Bewildered, baffled,
Screaming at fluorescents.
And this birth, yes,
Was like that,
Only harder, bloodier, more terrifying
Than the extremes of my expectations.

I used to dream, years ago,
(I had forgotten those dreams)
Of my own birth,
An endless crushing pressure,
Darkness compressed upon darkness,
The infinite constrictions of nowhere
Inflicting identity upon the nameless.
And this birth, I think,
Was like that.

But what delights me about Miss Mutiny
(A bundle of wriggles
As yet pinned down by gravity)
Is how comfortably she
Inhabits her face, her features -
How relaxed her ease, as if
To be pure human was effortless.

Copyright © 2004 Hugh Cook

Picture of front cover of ARC OF LIGHT poetry collection by Hugh Cook.

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