By Rachel Jamison Webster
We’ve come back to the site of   her
conception. She calls it why

and cries all night,
sleepless, wild.

It seems the way is always
floating and the goal —

to live so the ghosts we were
don’t trail us and echo.

I think we are inside a flower,
under a pollen of stars vast as scattered sand.

The air pulses with perfume,
flowers calling to flowers and the ferrying air.

But my eyes are thin and elsewhere.
I am thinking, maybe

even coming into the soul
is a difficult birth, squeezed by the body’s vise.

My bent legs like pincers
or the vegetable petals of some tropical flower.

Even my mind gripped by the folds
of   the flesh, how the cells keep twinning

themselves out toward complexity.
The tulip trees of   the valley

spread their bone canopies into slick green leaves
and fire flowers deep as cups.

Their cups fill with rain, rain
drinks the leaves drinking rain.

I can’t begin to explain.
How on this porous peak of stone in the sea

our daughter came into me.
Little flick of a fish I could not see.

I was just learning to be human
and upright among all that life.

And what was real was stranger
than night with its dust of unnamed suns.

It was the beyond in us. And she was.

Source: Poetry (March 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2013
 Rachel Jamison Webster


Rachel Jamison Webster lives in Chicago and teaches poetry at Northwestern University where she is an artist-in-residence. She edits the online anthology of international poetry, UniVerse. For several years, she designed and taught writing workshops for city kids, and with them, she edited two anthologies of writing by young Chicagoans, Alchemy (2001) and Paper Atrium (2004). She earned her MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson . . .

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Poems by Rachel Jamison Webster

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Birth & Birthdays, Life Choices, The Body, The Mind, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet

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