Births (a poem)

I was reminded of a poem I love today while working on my Quaker Heritage Day talks. It’s written by a Canadian Quaker (and friend of mine) named Julie Robinson. The poem is found in her pamphlet called: Openings: A Poet’s Encounter with Elizabeth Fry (Woodbrooke Journal 2008 #23).

Births by Julie C. Robinson

I had already known a measured opening of spirit,
the stretch and shift of what I held complete,
discovered I am elastic, mutable,
capable of emerging.

But this time, I didn’t expect to survive.
September, and the garden is heavy with the labours of summer.
They’ll have gathered currants and apples at Earlham,
chestnuts from the browning ground.

While here, in the confines of Mildred’s Court,
I spilled womb-water,
my fruit-belly emptying like a rain cloud,
thunderclaps bolting love across my back,
my body widening till I could only
think of thick night sky,
a rimless bowl of spilling dark,
my body raining.

And she came, as I came –
smelling of heat and wet earth.

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Wess the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Wess has a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and is the father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with friends, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

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