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Entries in death with childbirth (2)


About "Sanguineous Shock"

The birth-death I wrote about in this poem happened in 1987.

The original post is found in my 20 Years of Birth Stories blog, entitled "Maternal Death." The follow-up post can be read here. In the poem, I have the baby die, but in reality, the baby lived, but was very damaged by the oxygen deprivation. Last I knew (in 1987), the baby was still extremely compromised.

I wrote those posts in 2004.

Why am I pulling these out now?

Read "The Gray, Grey Messenger: Gloria Lemay."


Sanguineous Shock

I’m pressed against the icy wall
as blue-green ghosts float into
and never out of
the ceremonial shadows.

Salient scalpels
rip open the mound of flesh
Covering curls of fetus.
Within, silence.

Pulling and tugging,
freeing the trapped child,
its hostess serves torrents
of sanguine wine.

Death burns my senses.
Her life spilled onto the sterile floor
as coagulating pools splatter beneath
tormented servants.

Disbelieving, I watch.

Bags of gifted liquid are forced into her non-existent veins
only to find their way out
through her eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and pores.
Red is not a color that becomes her.

Slammed backwards in horror,
her husband stares
open mouthed
at his wife’s disembodiment.

Realizing the futility of resurrection,
focus turns towards the newborn
lying lifeless bathed in blood
that is not his own.

His silence is palpable.

Doctors and nurses,
drenched in blood,
collapse earthward -
a place she will never walk again.

I, too, sink to the floor.

The lifeless child now living
only in the minds of others.

Despair permeates the now resigned attendants.
sweat drips into pools of red icing the floor –
caregivers unable to give care,
witnesses to each other’s pain.

Splashing fists pound “God’s plan”
and tears dilute her life’s force
that continues dripping from the table.
Our faces smeared with equal parts of death and guilt.

I walk into the sunlight numb.