Born Under the Influence

By Andrena Zawinski

 

I passed through the narrow hills / of my mother's hips one cold morning...
no one knows where she has been.—from “Mother’s Day” by Dorianne Laux

 
Andrena’s mother, Helen Zawinski

Andrena’s mother, Helen Zawinski

I was born under the influence of two flowers,
the opium poppy and deadly nightshade,
head tunneling past my mother’s fleshy leaves,
her wrists and ankles strapped inside a labor crib.

Through the opium poppy and deadly nightshade
I was pulled from the womb in her Twilight Sleep,
her wrists and ankles strapped inside a labor crib,
pulled with forceps through delirium, struggling to breathe.

I was pulled from the womb in her Twilight Sleep,
her Dammerschlaf induced amnesia blocking pain,
pulled with forceps through delirium, struggling to breathe,
her memory erased of me, frenzied and afraid

in her Dammerschlaf induced amnesia blocking pain,
my head tunneling past her fleshy leaves,
her memory erased of me. Frenzied and afraid,
I was born under the influence of two flowers.

Author’s Notes:
Scopolamine induced amnesia created delirium and severe postpartum depression and could weaken an infant’s central nervous system, requiring slapping of the bottom to stimulate breathing. It was used into the 1960’s in the U.S. Dammerschlaf is German for miracle of painless childbirth

 

“Born Under the Influence” previously appeared in the print publication The Shanghai Literary Review: 4, Shanghai, China, and is being reprinted with permission.

 
 

 
 
andrena.jpg

Andrena Zawinski - Andrena Zawinski’s third and recently released full poetry collection is Landings. Her poems have received accolades for free verse, form, lyricism, spirituality, social concern and have appeared in Progressive Magazine, Verse Daily, Rattle, Nimrod, Comstock Review, Aeolian Harp, and others. Veteran teacher of writing and feminist activist, she founded and runs the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and is Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com