Guest poems and photos by Jennifer Toby.
The 25th Team
It was a journey
around the world
until we landed at home
with expanded horizons
Like so many of life’s journeys
it is only weeks later,
sitting quietly in the early morning sun
that I understood what it was about.
Connection to a delightful group of women
who look beyond easy, facile answers
to engage in our world with
deep respect, kindness, laughter.
Connection to unknown women;
grandmothers, mothers, daughters
wanting to do the right thing for
their families, themselves, their world.
Women in their schools,
communities, courts, clinics.
Until we saw, really saw, their lives
are different, and the same, as ours.
A babies first breath
Children’s shy jostling of delight
A sceptical look of caution and warm wisdom
hard earned over the decades
In these small sideways moments
you see the first step,
or the millionth step,
Until we realize there is
only one common story;
that we each walk through life’s
joys and sorrows; facing fears and hope,
Balancing what has been
with what is emerging.
Holding tight and letting go
as we step forward, at our own pace,
into an unknowable future.
In the Gondar hospital we squeeze
between donated NICU units
and labouring women
lined up head to toe.
When suddenly, surprisingly,
we witness a baby boy
unfurl into his first breath
Not yet rubbed clean,
his body a bud
opening into soft roundness
His lips pucker in surprise,
as his eyes find steady focus.
Each of us is equally startled,
but it’s our Monica’s face, turning,
dazzled by wonder
that’s etched into my mind
In a place where communities
absorb each new baby as a
breathing extension into its own future,
and everything else,
from paper to small registry fees,
is in too short supply.
Governments and administrators struggle
to find ways, words, and even dance moves
to encourage parents to register the birth of their baby.
To learn more about Jennifer’s experiences with The 25th Team, click here to read Part 1.