Opening poetry

On the very first page of our Varney’s Midwifery (4th edition), before you even get to the table of contents, is the following poem, by Dana Quealy, CNM, MSN:

    Holy Births and Howling Babies

    In my backyard there are nuns who live in a shaded brick building
    next to the St. Stanislaus church and elementary school.
    Together we rise before the sun is in the sky.
    Behind the kitchen curtain, in the damp haze of morning,
    I watch them walk in shades of blue robe.
    They glide in white sneakers across the parking lot.
    They are cool, calm, brisk.

    Some day, I’ll go see them
    I’ll ask for some lesson on prayer.
    Because the thing is…I pray now.
    Not Dear God Almighty!
    Just low, easy, quiet thoughts.

    I pray when my patience is worn.
    Why my shoulders ache.
    When my own voice becomes tiring to my ears.

    I pray when my heart sits heavy with stories and faces of women.
    A prayer for the 32 week babe.
    A prayer for the lady with the skinny, squawking twins.
    A prayer for the woman without a mother, or a lover, or a friend.
    I pray when my cold hands run across a pregnant belly
    and I feel a kick from inside.

    I pray for all my babies, Be good to your mama.
    I pray for all my mothers, Be strong, be good to this baby.
    I pray secretly and I pray slowly.

    I pray for us, the midwives and almost-midwives.
    I pray that we make the right decisions.
    And I pray for those of us who make bad decisions.
    Decicions we regret with outcomes we can’t change.

    I pray that we learn from our mistakes.
    That with ages comes wisdom.
    I pray deeply and I pray completely.
    For all of the hands and all of the bellies.
    I pray for holy births and howling babies.

Now, my question is this: what do all of you think of this poem? Do you like it? Do you think it’s the right poem for the very beginning of a midwifery text book? Does it fill you with hope? Does it start things off on the right foot? Does it give you a visceral sense of what it may be like to be a midwife? I am just curious about other’s responses to it. I’ll share my own thoughts in a bit, but I’d like to hear other’s reactions first. I am just curious. (And don’t by shy! Analyzing poetry is fun! …says my inner English Major.)

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