Monday 17 May 2021

Right of Passage

by Angela Walden

I gave birth
alone, in a dark room.
It took ten hours with no one believing
the labor was real.
The rails of my bed shook in near-screaming,
white knuckled grips, minute by minute -
the entire night,
as I
doubted myself, not knowing what "real" labor was.

It was a color I had never seen,
a song I had never sang, & I
was so used to bearing pain
that I did not protest.

Ten hours I jotted down the times of each pain,
just as they’d instructed me to do
until the numbers wouldn't go
onto the paper
legibly anymore.
I scratched them down through a flood of tears,
tearing the paper, breathing & carving through
monstrous pain.
my only company.

Two minutes apart.
I cried to the nurse.
The call button hadn’t brought
anyone or anything to my aid
in hours.

I held on through hours of darkness, exhaustion &
horrific fog
lights went up,
I was fully awake &
her face revealed her mistake -
"I've got feet," she said, flatly,
& ordered me to cross my legs.
There I’d laid
all night, laboring alone,
all the way to the finish.
I had given birth
in a dark & empty room,
no one hearing my cries.
I had picked up the phone, but
the whole world, it seemed, was too asleep
to notice; to care
that Life,
in all its most beautiful, tragic, painful
& desperate splendor
was happening
to me;
to us.

And as if I hadn't done
the job
well enough,
she told me to
"hold it in,"
to keep my legs crossed, &
to give the doctor more time to arrive, &
to cut
my baby from me.

I just wanted
someone to care;
to hold my hand;
to see my strength & weakness
all at once;
To comfort me;
to console & congratulate me.
This was my birth -
in this dark, empty room.
As everyone chose to look away,
I had no choice but to
warrior on
& ignore the pain,
& through suffering,
the miracle
I had been assigned -
to bring forth

* * * * *

"Right of Passage" was originally self-published in Angela Walden's book Where All Paths Converge (2020).

Angela Walden is a Kentucky native poet, spoken word artist, & author of Echoes: My Journey From the Ledge to the Mountain Top, Soul Revision, and Where All Paths Converge. Her contemporary, free-written poetry covers an array of topics including relationships, mental health, spirituality, abuse, trauma, recovery, motherhood, grief, & loss. 

She sells her books independently/directly at


  1. "I've got feet." Amazing. You took me with you on this excruciating journey.