the old midwife's wartime winter solstice

They are pushed
streaked with blood,
some screaming,
to her hands.

Spiraled down, birth and the calendar break free from darkness,
celebrate,      turn to light.

In long abandoned
youthful gesture
she'd weaved a mantra,
and with words forgotten

she'd sung
strength into their futures.
she merely tallies at year's end.

Denial ebbs over ignorance,
lays bare her years of neglect.
The forlorn conceit distances a good birth from a life twisted
in America.

The moon washes this birth
with ancient ritual
and dismally records the iron fist
that rocks the cradle of civilization.

While her inattentive gaze has fallen elsewhere.

She wraps the blanket tightly round,
lifts perfect ear near marred cheek,
her dry lips barely move,
she hoarsely whispers a solstice promise.

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