Explaining the Placenta

By Jane Beal

This is the house your baby lived in
before she was born,
I say –

and I hold up the membranes
of amnion and chorion
(words like notes sung
by cherubim and seraphim)
to show the mother
who now is breastfeeding her newborn babe.

This shiny side was the baby’s side,
and the cord in the center
was connected to the center of her!

I turn the placenta over
in the bowl, and say:
This side was your side, attached
to the inside of the uterus,
and the blood that perfused it
brought life and food to your baby.

The mama knows this was part of her.
Now that she has seen it,
she will remember.
She has understood something about herself
and life when it is first beginning:
unseen, unheard, inside.

She says she will
bury it in the ground.
What will grow from it then?

Jane Beal is a poet. She is the creator of many poetry collections, including Sanctuary (Finishing Line Press, 2008) and Rising (Wipf and Stock, 2015), as well as three recording projects: Songs from the Secret Life, Love-Song, and with her brother, saxophonist and composer Andrew Beal, The Jazz Bird. She also writes fiction, creative non-fiction, and literary criticism. She has served as a professor at Wheaton College and Colorado Christian University, teaching creative writing and literature, and as a midwife in the U.S., Uganda, and the Philippines. She currently teaches at the University of California, Davis. See http://sanctuarypoet.net.

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