The Delivery Room
James Henry French, b. 20.11.2003
They had wheeled your mother to theatre
in a plunge-back gown for the performance
of a lifetime, and left us to keep company
at her bedside after the bed was gone —
you on the flat of your back in an incubator,
a spaceman, minutes old, taking it all in
and taking your time about sampling the air.
Someone is going to tell you, so let it be me —
because the blood and the heat were too much
I lifted the sash window and, slipping my head out
for a breath of air, took in the cemetery — the skip
parked inside the gate for withered wreaths,
the far corner, filled with innocents, still green,
row upon row of neat marble and granite,
the only sound a car on the Bridge of Peace
and an ambulance idling at A&E.
We will never be in a room as full or as empty.
The first voices we heard were voices off —
night sisters whispering, nearing their shift’s end,
that the night just gone had felt like an eternity.
All I see is her bare feet on the deal stairs, her face,
when she sees the world turned white, turn towards
our two faces to ask, ‘What did you do?’ — as if we
might be able somehow to account for all that beauty.