Women in Labor

By Mary Ruefle b. 1952 Mary Ruefle
Women who lie alone at midnight
because there is no one else to lie to

Women who lie alone at midnight
at noon in the laundromat
destroying their own socks

Women who lie alone at midnight:
Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates

Women who lie alone at midnight
as the first furl of starlight
pearls the moon with nacre

Women who lie alone at midnight
sending a postcard bearing
the face of a bawling infant
who cries “I am for the new”

Women who lie alone at midnight
reciting the names of shoes

Women who lie alone at midnight
spurting unjustified tears,
the kind that run sideways
never reaching the mouth,
the kind you cannot swallow

Women who lie alone at midnight
singing breast away the burden of my tender
and afterwards burp

Women who lie alone at midnight
obeying the laws of physics
Women who let their dreams curl at the end
Women in a monastery of flamingos

Women who die alone at midnight
contributing to the end, to
lost time, to the rain and flies,
seeing the bird they saw trapped in the airport
surviving by the water fountain

What’s more, try it sometime
It works

Source: Poetry (September 2011).

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2011
 Mary  Ruefle

Biography

Though poet and essayist Mary Ruefle was born outside Pittsburgh, she spent her youth moving around the United States and Europe with her military family.

She has written numerous books of poetry, including Indeed I Was Pleased with the World (2007) and The Adamant (1989), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize. A Little White Shadow (2006), her book of erasures—found texts in which all but a few words have been erased from the . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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