Frank X Walker

After Birth

”Killing that nigger gave me no more inner discomfort than our wives
endure when they give birth to our children.”
-Byron de la Beckwith

Like them, a man can conceive
an idea, an event, a moment so clearly
he can name it–even before it breathes.
We both can carry a thing around inside
for only so long and no matter how small
it starts out, it can swell and get so heavy
our backs hurt and we can’t find comfort
enough to sleep at night. All we can think
about is the relief that waits, at the end.
When it was finally time, it was painless.
It was the most natural thing I’d ever done.
I just closed my eyes and squeezed
then opened them and there he was,
just laying there still covered with blood,
(laughs) but already trying to crawl.
I must admit, like any proud parent
I was afraid at first, afraid he’d live,
afraid he’d die too soon.
Funny how life ‘n death
is a whole lot of pushing and pulling,
holding and seeking breath;
a whole world turned upside down
until somebody screams.

Frank X Walker
“After Birth” is from No More Fear: The Rebirth of Medgar Evers.