Prospects of Life After Birth

January 9, 1937


When I was born, demented by the drug this one nurse used
To keep me in the oven, snug, while old Doc Frisbee took
His ever-loving blue-eyed time, deformed when the forceps fused
My malleable skull a tiny bit because the O.B. book
Had failed to say a thing about a laid-back baby’s birth
And I resisted—God, I fought! Who wouldn’t start a scrap,
With room and board provided free, for all his world was worth,
When what he held could not be weighed or measured on a map?
It wasn’t old Doc Frisbee’s fault the night nurse pushed me back.
His trolley plowed to Halsey Street before the pulley froze,
And while he trekked the dozen blocks alone along the track
To Portland Sanitarium through wildly blowing snows,
I twice poked out as if to ask a favor, and the nurse
Reversed me with the flat of her hand pressed against my head,
Scolding my wide-eyed mother as the everlasting curse
Of her profession, how she could secure a post instead
In Daytime Dresses, Lingerie, Perfumes at Meier & Frank,
And should indeed be home in bed, letting her sweet dreams bloom.
Lo and behold, the Doc arrived and gave my bottom a spank,
Dangling me by the ankles while I wailed farewell to the womb,
Wondering who in creation dreamt this dreadful atmosphere,
The sickly cotton gowns and masks, the off-white tile floor,
The wrinkled rubber ether bag, the lights designed with fear
In mind by demons lurking just outside the O.R. door.


As told to me by my mother