by Alana Kelsall
we arrived as couples
at the rebirthing centre mats lined up
like rafts his arm around
my shoulder I dropped
to a crouch
angled my huge belly into line
wondered who would succumb first
to the tug of sleep draw up
the flood of their birth?
our best friend trumpeted his snores
in no time roped back sheepish
into the shadowy room
whale music probing the walls
feeling like a cabbage adrift in a field
I slipped towards a dark watery eye
was it a fish?
how human is it to breathe?
the Denisovans once roamed across
vast mountain ranges leaping
from crag to outcrop
without losing their breath
a gene they bequeathed to the Tibetans
where did they come from those climbers
how did they die out?
were they somewhere between a fish and a bird
able to lean into storms
with breath and bone?
how did my body erase my
fearful mind during labour
with each surge
to the end?
will our children’s children have to breathe
through water learn how to float
to higher ground?
Alana Kelsall is an award-winning writer of poetry and prose who lives on unceded Wurundjeri land. She recently won second prize in the June Shenfield Award, and was longlisted for the Liquid Amber Poetry Prize. Her poetry is forthcoming in the Australian Poetry Anthology.
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