You Ask How a Midwife is Made

You Ask How a Midwife is Made
by Robin Lim

First a girl has a daughter,
a being born when a sparrow and a sea turtle
mate impossibly.
No manger to lay down in, this child comes silently
before dawn lights the little trailer in a garden by the tracks.

Too poor to imagine poverty, the baby feeds
on the cracked, sore nipples of love, while hummingbirds
and crickets sing in the sunflower and sweet pea teepee.

As the girl rolls her baby in autumn leaves
dioxins kill babies in Italy. Boats full of refugees
are sunk by governments. Oil becomes more precious
than the weight of a human or owl’s soul.

A slow revolution and six more babies
woke her up to the truth,
that she cannot protect her seven children or the owls
unless she takes the yellow dress her Filipino
grandmother offers her in a dream.

This tattered yellow garment becomes a flag of peace.
It signals a war will be fought with the weapons of gentle love,
and a trembling hand to give comfort.
She cannot change this world, where shadow puppets
dance on the red lips of volcanoes,
and miracles are extinct,
but she must give it a go.