He fits in my palm.
It’s been about 20 minutes
Since he was coaxed from the
Baby house by the surgeon
But only 5 minutes of being alive.
(Those first 15 minutes, life was evasive.)

I blink at him
Still wishing I could swap
My heart rhythm for his
Both for his sake and mine.
In this moment I flail, I sputter,
Ache for a calm largo.
He doesn’t need a semblance of calm.
I blink at him
Take my allegro! Step it up!
Fight your battles like a man!
(But he has been. For so long.)

He blinks at me
Eyes opening for the first time
Assaulted by the light
Too blurred to see the
Face of the assailant who
Assaulted his chest.
Despite the deceit of the cardiac power grid
And his tiny form
It was the recoil, the bounce back
The integrity of the ribcage
True grit of neonatal cartilage
That first told me
He is old enough.

He sits in my palm.
So small
Yet he had already reached his time
to vacate the office
Probably cursing term limits
Like other local politicians
Holding on to the seats until forced
By customary convention
Or outside observers.
He was indeed
Braced against the actual seat
In all his smallness
Wedged in an even smaller place.

The place.
Cephalopelvic disproportion.
One way of saying
Too young, too stunted, too hungry
Suits declare such a place developing,
Conflate growing pains and labor pains.
If only structural adjustment programs
Could pause, take a breath,
Then loan a breath.

He blinks again.
Wrinkled and wise
To the politics of size.
So small.
Politics of place.
Even smaller.
Except now he’s in my open hand.
Perched over my heart line and life line.
Winking and wide-eyed.
Politics of age.
Somehow both too young
And old enough.
Politics of life.
15 minutes. 5 minutes.
Each heart beat – no flip of a coin,
A vote cast.

Romany Redman, MD completed her residency in combined Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Utah in 2020. She has a bachelor's degree in Russian Language and Literature and played fiddle in one of the first Siberian Irish pub bands before moving back stateside to study medicine.

Rubor Participation:
2021 Poem, "Politics"
2020 Poem, "How to say I don’t know: A primer on communication for young physicians"
2019 Poem, "Magpie Wisdom"