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Birth

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1

Three sparrows in the schoolyard while waiting for my daughter to finish up her play with friends whose purity she will come to question in a few weeks and in that way I am reminded of the president when he speaks of enemies to the other side of the mirror but only in that way the three sparrows ruffled up the dirt as their wings and heads spun motorbike doughnuts after one of them had come back with a massive potato chip for the other two to fight over perhaps he was the provider or wasn’t hungry but simply couldn’t let a good bit of food go to waste


Then a crow came and the winner sparrow went zooming into the orange orchard knowing fully well it would be impossible to alight and reappeared with a chip the size of his beak and a flurry of birds descended on the scene (I even saw a Fletcher) but kept my eyes on that little sparrow and am happy to report he kept what his mouth held though it occurs to me he was also mean and the one who seemed a provider might have been yoked in that way my wife during delivery was rung up like a bar code whenever the nurse knocked or the doctor was called



2

In the room there were women
Counting up to ten dressed in blue
The doctor was also
Pregnant in her final week

The neonate came out broke
The sound barrier and was whisked
Away from the mother the father
Had cut the cord having held

Scissors before he couldn’t turn down
The doctor’s offer as if he would
Have denied someone an entry
Or exit visa

Then the women were gone
And neighbors and friends had to go
To work and the mother was alone
With breast or formula milk

One nurse suggested the latter
Was the better soporific


3

An infant smile
A gas tickle
The price of milk

It goes up in war

My son is here to teach me
My temperament is genetic

His smile is blind
It dreams a spandrel
Turns opiate in the eyes

He grunts impatient wants
Gas out as soon as

It forms in peace
He coos

It’s what doves do
Though excitable
Observant of moving lips

Attempts utterance
Throws up happy spit
And hunger’s renewed
Fady Joudah, “Birth” from Alight. Copyright © 2013 by Fady Joudah. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Source: Alight (Copper Canyon Press, 2013)
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Birth

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