Birth at Sea
by Holly Knight
© 2000 Midwifery Today, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
[Editor's Note: This poem originally appeared in Midwifery Today Issue 54:
In my dream, I run
all the way down the hillside
to the estuary where the kingfishers wheel
and dive and the sea lions swim
upriver with just their noses
above water and the children bump
sticks along the sand.
I jump in to feel the rush
of cold river current that sweeps
me out to sea where the waves roll
past haystacks and headlands,
where the surf scoters bob
on swells and the sea garden of kelp sways
A sea star plants its body on my belly, sends
its rays across the moon of transparent flesh
and Rosemary rises,
reaches toward that underneath place,
the Jacob's lantern,
where the light of the night sky hides
from the view of the casual observer.
Rosemary swims out into the salt bath
and we float together,
past the gray whale
whose spray baptizes us,
past the white pelican
whose call beckons us,
under the bright sun,
whose rays bless us.
I drew this picture the night before I went into labor. That day, my husband
and I had walked along the banks of the Willamette River. The river ran fast and
was swollen, just like I was. A vision of the fish's awesome, upstream journey
came to me. I felt that certain qualities of the fish's journey could help me
on the one I was ready to take in order to birth and parent my daughter. The vision
was so strong, that I know it was important, but I worried about the end of the
fish's journey. Would the fish make a good role model, given that she dies before
her children are born? My friend Catia said, "She's a great role model. She's
given them everything they need to survive."
So, my beautiful daughter, Rosemary Hannah Williams, swam out at 3:42 a.m. on
July 31, 1999.
Holly Knight has worked as a pesticide activist and environmental
educator. Parenting her daughter, Rosemary, with her husband, Tom Williams, has
been her most rewarding—and inspiring—job thus far.
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