bore a son on the run, another roadside baby
By KILIAN McDONNELL
I am indebted to M. Shaun Kopeland
for calling my attention to the news item in the European section of the London
Times on Feb. 12, 1992. A pregnant Moslem woman living in Naples, Italy, was
walking down a road when her water broke. She soon went into labor. The poem
was prompted by this incident.
The water broke as I, a Moslem in
a Catholic land,
was crossing the frantic Corso.
I leaned my great protruding selves
a wall, my clothes plastered to our skin.
A black in a crowded
bus with wet pants?
I still had time, so I began to walk
along the road.
The terror fell at the four
mile mark, as meltdown rants
against the wave
on wave of inland pain.
Galaxies of bolts protest against
the universe. I
have no time as I strain
to lie upon the concrete curbing
where I will
have a roadside baby.
Ladies pushing grocery carts pause,
their hair, not disturbing
vast eternal plans, they walk away.
points, Look what the niggers doing!
The garbage men park
the truck to collect
the decay of our humanity and stay
to see the
spectacle in living color.
Not unobserved but unassisted,
I bear my son
and tear away my skirt
for swaddling cloth -- Naples does not stir
Vesuvius is silent.
in the prophets
Somalia it is not
Benedictine Fr. Kilian McDonnell is president of the Institute
for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at St. Johns University in
Collegeville, Minn. He is author of The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan: The
Trinitarian and Cosmic Order of Salvation (Liturgical Press).
National Catholic Reporter, December 11,