'Neonatology' by Elizabeth Alexander

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Giving birth is like jazz, something from silence,
then all of it. Long, elegant boats,
blood-boiling sunshine, human cargo,
a handmade kite —

Postpartum.
No longer a celebrity, pregnant lady, expectant.
It has happened; you are here,
each dram you drain a step away
from flushed and floating, lush and curled.
Now you are the pink one, the movie star.
It has happened. You are here,

and you sing, mewl, holler, peep,
swallow the light and bubble it back,
shine, contain multitudes, gleam. You

are the new one, the movie star,
and birth is like jazz,
from silence and blood, silence
then everything,

jazz.

"Crave Radiance" page 143 (excerpt from 153)

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is a poet and professor of African American Studies at Yale University. She wrote and delivered "Praise Song for the Day" at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. Her most recent book of poems is Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems, 1990-2010.