The Woman Giving Birth to Air

by Neile Graham

Cradles it now, climate-controlled, in her concave belly.
She's cedar, stained dark from time,
from human hands and fish oil,
a century's-long avalanche
of sand.

So holding, she becomes everything's mother:
all bounty, all food, all tidbits, even
the earth and air. Thus she offers
her power of bearing to your

Head, arms, legs splayed, she's open to anything:
salmon, oolichan oil, seaweed, berries,
your curious eye; her emptiness
is fullness, her submission

Neile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination, having grown up in B.C. and currently living in Seattle. That, in conjunction with her lifelong fascination with myth and folklore has led to her working on a collection of poems about the mythic lore of Scotland and the Pacific Northwest, from which this poem comes. She has three previous collections of poetry, Seven Robins, Spells for Clear Vision, and Blood Memory, as well as a CD of her reading her work, She Says: Poems Selected and New. Her poems and stories have been published in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. Her favourite fruits are the raspberries from her garden, which she annually combines with apricots and spices to make jam.

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