Prayer to Tear the Sperm-Dam Down

By Charles Webb.

I always, always, love reading this poem:

Because we need to remember / that memory will end, let the womb remain / untouched.

—from “Prayer to Seal Up the Wombdoor” by Suzanne Paola

Because we know our lives will end,

Let the vagina host a huge party, and let the penis come.

Let it come nude, without a raincoat.

Let it come rich, and leave with coffers drained.

Throw the prostate’s floodgates open.

Let sperm crowd the womb full as a World Cup stadium.

Let them flip and wriggle like a mackerel shoal.

Let babies leap into being like atoms after the Big Bang.

Let’s celebrate fullness, roundness, gravidity.

Let’s worship generation—this one,

And the next, and next, forever.

Let’s adore the progression: protozoan to guppy

To salamander to slow loris to Shakespeare.

Forget Caligula. Forget Hitler. Mistakes

Were made. Let’s celebrate our own faces

Grinning back at us across ten thousand years.

Let’s get this straight: Earth doesn’t care if it’s overrun—

If it’s green or brown or black, rain forest, desert, or ice pack.

A paper mill is sweet as lavender to Earth,

Which has no sense of smell, and doesn’t care

If roads gouge it, or industries fume into its air.

Beetles don’t care. Or crows.

Or whales, despite their singing and big brains.

Sure, rabbits feel. Spicebush swallowtails

Feel their proboscides slide into flowers’

Honeypots, which may feel too,

But lack the brains to care. Even if beagles

Are as mournful as they look—

Even if great apes grieve, wage war, catch termites

With twigs, and say in sign language,

“Ca-ca on your head,” they still don’t care.

Or if the do—well, join the club.

We humans care so much, some of us dub life

A vale of tears, and see heaven as oblivion.

Some pray, for Earth’s sake, not to be reborn.

Wake up! Earth will be charred by the exploding sun,

Blasted to dust, reduced to quarks, and still not care.

If some people enjoy their lives too much

To share, let them not share. If some despise themselves

Too much to reproduce, let them disappear.

If some perceive themselves as a disease, let them

Take the cure, and go extinct. It’s immaterial to Earth.

Let people realize this, or not. Earth doesn’t care.

I do, and celebrate my own fecundity.

I celebrate my wife’s ovaries, her fallopian tubes

Down which, like monthly paychecks,

Golden eggs roll. I celebrate the body’s changing.

(Might as well: it changes anyway.)

I celebrate gestation, water breaking,

The dash to the hospital, the staff descending,

Malpractice polices in hand. I celebrate

Dilation of the cervix, doctors in green scrubs,

And even (since I won’t get one) the episiotomy.

I’ll celebrate my bloody, dripping son, head deformed

By trusting against the world’s door.

Let it open wide for him. Let others make room for him.

Let his imagination shine like God’s.

Let his caring change the face of everything.

via Best New American Poetry 2006 (editor, Billy Collins)


Post a Comment