Birthing At the Center of the Earth

Birthing at the Center of the Earth

The ageless midwife of the Amazon
clothes herself in white when she is summoned.
Wet season now. No paths to climb –
all her world a womb of water. Steady at the oar,
she glides round lily pads large as heliports
to the birthing mother’s stilted house.

Arara¸ arara… macaws announce she has arrived
for the thousandth time, each visit marked like bird-scratch
painted on her hands. The men dismissed, she settles
in between the spreading thighs. Watch how her fingers
knotted as the roots of ceiba trees, slide round the uterus,
swivel the wandering babe to the entrance of that slippery cave.

The midwife soothes with songs of the Tupinamba’
as she cooks and cleans, then kneads a belly.
They wait. No rushing, no appointed hour. Let life
enter on its own time. Let the new one come cascading
like the river into earthen palms, emerging under howls,
his tethered cord bit free by teeth that glimmer in the firelight.


Poem by Ruth Mota


Ruth Mota lives in a redwood forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California where she devotes herself to poetry after years of working in international health in Latin America and Africa. She lived nearly a decade in northeast Brazil with her Brazilian husband of Tupinamba descent and also enjoyed the Amazon forest. Her poems often reflect her love of nature and have been published in various online and print journals including: Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Black Mountain Press, High Shelf Press, Terrapin Books and Fourth River.