Sunday, January 06, 2008

male parturition

I’m reading the 1980 edition of Anthology of Magazine Verse, edited by Alan F. Pater. When I first read it a few years after it was published I was not yet copying out poems and I saw reading its 456 pages as an education. I believe returning the book to the library and wondering if I would ever again read poems by those poets whose work I enjoyed or know it if I did, was one of the pushes toward the copying out project. I recognize more of the names now. Haven’t run onto one I know I have to hang onto this time, although I did read this one aloud to Kent (who has a horror of kidney stones):

Thirty Childbirths

by Millen Brand

In James Street,
as if my pneumonia had not been enough,
I started to have attacks of kidney gravel,
human penalty
for emerging from inanimate matter – pain.
The pain of one daylong attack of gravel
has been compared to the suffering
of childbirth. I must have had
thirty attacks. I thought of suicide.
One time an attack lasted three days
and in my male parturition
I screamed like a woman.
Hospitalized in Jersey City,
I had a doctor, assigned by Uncle Sam Cosgrove,
who without anaesthesia pushed a tube
up my penis, and this scalding insertion
let me be flushed with liquid and the liquid
washed out the gravel, or I pissed it out.
No birth, but still
a delivery
giving me back to life.

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