a poem by
DAVID WALKER | Teacher + Poet

This poem is a direct reflection on the birth of my son. Before that moment, I never knew how much went into the birthing process after the baby arrives. There’s nurses and machines and reassurances, but I could only focus on hearing my son cry for the first time and couldn’t really do anything else until he did.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

THE day my son was born, the nurse
carried his purpling body across
the room to an incubator and began

massaging his lungs. Her voice blinked
as she assured us, We just have to get
him to cry – he’s doing fine. We just have

to get him… I think she forgot we were
in the room: me standing inert and useless
beside my exhausted wife’s bed, fingers

gripping the side rails hard enough so
I was eventually flexing the stiffness
from them. We didn’t blink. Another nurse

doing what she could to coax the wail
from my son’s pristine vocal cords – I wondered
if they were parents. What did they have

for breakfast? Did they ever sit split-lip,
ice bag up to face, wondering how they
would explain this to their parents?

What air were they exchanging with
my son? Veins of experience flow through
days and days like wild vines until we

all end up at the heart of the thing. Right here.
A hospital room in Massachusetts, clinging
to the sound that would come to jolt

me out of a weekday’s too-short sleep.
This had been a long process of needles
and paperwork: the boy already developing

a tornadic stubbornness. When he finally
cried, it was a choking sob: a blink in the history
of man, already welling with joyful tears.



Teacher + Poet

I am a husband, father, high school teacher, and literary magazine editor. Mostly I am inspired by what I see in my day-to-day life, whether it’s my family life or the political environment we find ourselves in. I integrate art into my daily life by writing after everyone else has fallen asleep and by unearthing hidden gems editing for my literary magazine.

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