Musings of a Marfan Mom

Mary’s Birth Poem


Awhile back I invited readers to submit their birth stories, to be posted while I take a maternity leave. Since Baby J is here, it’s time to post them! Some of the women have Marfan syndrome like me, but not all. If you have questions for the authors, feel free to leave them in the comments section; I’ll also try to email them any questions I see (as soon as I have time).

Mary Krane Derr has been writing and living with multiple disabilities since she was a small child. She will be one of 25 foreign poets featured at the 2011 Kritya International Poetry Festival, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India. She lives in Chicago with her husband near their daughter, now 23, and preschooler grandson.

By Mary Krane Derr

Plateaus of breath into spikes of heart and womb.

Glucose IV, versus insulin IV: a clear pull and push through the tiniest twists and turns of my blood, diabetic, which cannot hold out my holy combustion unaided, alone.

A needle to the spine-crunch so big, it startles even my syringe-battered skin and morphs me into a woman with rubberized legs that twang out pressure not pain.

Below the spotless white horizon of drapes, a knife-split, a hands-tug, a giant upside down girlchild, skin swirled with grayish wax from inside.

Damply blackhaired alongside the stunned float of her father’s face, she splutters and rages after the novelty of air: the red respiration of all bodies and cells the same chemical reaction as fire.

Spikes of heart and womb into zigzags and plateaus of breath. Diabetic or not: whose blood can hold out such holy combustion unaided, alone?

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