Already the World - Victoria Redel

I’ve loved Victoria Redel’s poetry since I stumbled across her first book of poems for a dollar in the basement of a Saint Paul discount book store. Look at her, coolly facing down the reader in a leather jacket on the back cover - how could I not take her home?

I bought this book in my early twenties, before the idea of becoming a midwife had implanted itself into my consciousness. How satisfying, then, to revisit these poems after years of walking with families through pregnancy, birth and the postpartum wonderment of suddenly cohabiting with an almost alien being.


Redel captures those moments so well - the loss of sovereignty as the pregnancy takes root and can sometimes seem to take over, the bittersweet of the last few weeks as the first separation approaches, and the desperate patience parenting demands.


Third Month

At first you were in the mouth,
nausea uncalmable.
Or you were the hard stools of constipation.
At night rocked
over to sleep at a child’s hour,
I slept with pillows layered
to ease my swollen breasts.
In books they claimed you were
no bigger than a fingernail,
but I could feel you, gargantuan,
settling in my body, assuming
what you needed to live,
risking everything
even if it meant risking
mother love.


Ninth Month

Already you are moving down.

Already your floating head
engaged in the inlet
from where you will head out.

Already the world, the world.

And you are slipping
down, away from my heart.



All night pacing.
The baby hanging off my tit.
He has been at it for hours.
Four to be exact.
My one with eyes open
cannot cast himself
out into his blue sleep.
In the darkness singing,
in the darkness singing,
my off-pitched voice
trying every note
to save us both.