Birth Stories

Published on November 3rd, 2016 | by Samantha Barrow


BIRTH THREATENS CLOSER—Poems by Samantha Barrow


“Flooding” by Tony Alter



The water level rises

under my skin




—logical terms

to capture

this state


but really

the body


is beginning

its drowning


of a social GPS

adherence to a map

other than the deep interior machinery core

set in motion by a callous gesture, a couple little cells

that ignited everything god-like and terrifying


the territory beneath my eyes

—spongy soft & pale—

brims in heat


once the flood line laps

my irises

I’m done


Just hope to hold on

to enough breath


to make it

past this


to the other




“Birth” by Priya Saihgal




The fact is

you have to finish this


There is no undoing

the hole that will be made


There is no turning the honeydew melon

back into a grape or a pomegranate pip

to slip gracefully through

your maidenhood


You are a matron now

skirts wide billowing

& worn

the only grace


is acceptance


Boo hoo if you want to


“Game Day”




When my midwife

tries to get a second finger

inside my cervix

to stimulate

the baby’s coming

it feels like I am

being raped


There is nothing I can do

about that fact


She can pull open

my labial lips

knock the baby’s head around my pelvic bowl

I can consent to those pains

necessary I can suppose


but somewhere

between the vaginal canal

and the inside of my bones

a new law emerges

where my body is not

my own


a slimy furred



with tits & wings

in all the wrong places

will gnaw your fucking head off


Don’t ask me

to be reasonable


Don’t ask me to endure

that which will not save

my life

our life


A death

of something

will occur


“Wings” by Kirsten Pauli


P.S. Want more? There’s more. Samantha Barrow will be reading at Dixon Place for the Queer Art Organics series on Tuesday Nov 8th

Photos (except of the author) are Flickr / Creative Commons License

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About the Author

Samantha Barrow writes poems and some prose while directing the Humanities in Medicine at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at The City College of New York, and teaching in the Program of Narrative Medicine at Columbia.

She is the author of GRIT and tender membrane (Plan B Press), Jelly (a chapbook, Tiger / Monkey Alliance), and Chap (self published).  Her poetry, prose, reviews and interviews have been published in The Ledge Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia City Paper, Off Our Backs, Lesbian Nation, Feminist Review, The Intima, Cleaver, Helmet Hair and two Uphook Press Anthologies: “you say. say.” and “Hell Strung and Crooked.

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