A poem by Niki Tulk – The Feminist Wire

A poem by Niki Tulk


Song For My Daughter


You are nearly

here. Around and above me

slithering voices, anxious

midwife barks. My own voice

surges from a galaxy

cloaked in breath and stygian

song. I am volcano. I am

tsunami. I forge the deep

waters. Atomic, I shift

mountain ranges with each arc

of my body.


The hospital hush.

In the birth room, electronics

twitch in sonic orbit;

antiseptic, pink formica,

2 am lights cast

their smooth, metallic shine.


And pain is a dark green,

the descent into breath and core,

hot deep umber;

my body. Violet and vast,

I-not-I endures contracts dilates,

a solitary, dark pupil.


Midwife hands rub and twist

and wrench, their barks

a rampage now, a strange opera,

the doctor’s sudden

tenor; I cannot answer.


I am small as a seed. You

gouge for air,

I must

unsheathe you.

Taut, tight, full, I am

tortured arrowhead.


And oh, my child,

how does it feel to be

so gripped in uterine wall, forced

by this ferocious new-mother body

into light? You shimmer


like a stone;

you must scream to fire

your heart, she

cannot wait.

I shudder,

an abyss between my thighs pours

blood and water.

In a clamor the midwife hands

plunge and pluck and


The oxygen hiss, once more the doctor’s tenored

call, the midwives

crying tears I will not.


And there are only five words:

I would die for you.

And this is my song,

and I will sing it I would die

for you until you cry out, we

cry as you empty your mouth of the roar

you have carried down

the long canal.


In ecstatic tears,

the midwife hands lay you to rest

like a shell

on the sand of my belly,

You blaze coral,

you, the stain of my blood.


And my beautiful child, we sing.



NikiTulk_webNiki Tulk studied & taught Literature and Theatre in Australia, and co-founded Australia’s first nonprofit record label. She has a Masters in Children’s Literature from the University of Georgia and and MFA from The New School. Currently Niki teaches writing at Parsons The New School for Design, and works as a freelance theatre director in the NYC area. She has poetry, fiction and reviews published in The Saranac Review, Rock River Review, Antipodes, and The Sheepshead Review; her debut novel “Shadows and Wings” was published in 2013.