She pushed, and pushed,
Until finally a collection of near-perfect strangers
Gathered around her with somber faces and said
They knew this was not the delivery she had hoped for.

Now her belly is smaller,
Its living breathing squirming resident
Emptied through a long incision
And placed in your arms.

What do you say?

To the man who drew honed metal across your beloved’s belly
Who cauterized capillaries and parted muscles
Until finally he saw the final layer
Stretched thin over ten months of waiting
And hours of pushing.
So thin that no metal was necessary.
A finger poked through,
A child glimpsed.

What do you say?

Knowing that the first hands to hold your child were his.
Knowing that he grasped and pulled, hard, and spoke forcefully.
Perhaps even cursed.
Until finally the child was revealed
And the time noted
And his attention returned to the mother, who was still bleeding
While others lifted the child
Severed its cord, and rubbed it dry.

What do you say?

To the man who joined tissues like a quilt
So that she and what she contained, and your world entire,
Might be made whole again.

There are words for times like these, when a debt is owed
But you soon find that the words are easier thought than said.
And if you do manage to give them flight
To overcome a broken voice, and quivering lips, and weeping eyes
And launch them into the ether
You find that the words are less lightning and more lightning bug
That they don’t soar like you thought they would, but instead spill out
Ooze, even.
And you become embarrassed at having said them.

You’ll praise God when you see him again,
Because this is a second chance.
The hands which once held needle and thread now hold a pen,
And sweep it over paper to describe incisions, organs, tears, and sutures,
Explaining all the while.

You tell yourself that this time the words will come to you,
And you’ll speak them,
And he’ll know the depth of your gratitude.

But the words do not come, and so as he reaches for a handshake
With that same hand that worked major and minor miracle
You decide that human skin must do the work
Which human words cannot.