I love the way Sharon Olds simultaneously demystifies and heroicizes pregnancy and childbirth in this poem. She is one of my favorite poets, and I think Woolf would have appreciated her.
The Language of the Brag
I have wanted excellence in the knife-throw
I have wanted to use my exceptionally strong and accurate arms
and my straight posture and quick electric muscles
to achieve something at the center of a crowd,
the blade piercing the bark deep,
the haft slowly and heavily vibrating like the cock.
I have wanted some epic use for my excellent body,
some heroism, some American achievement
beyond the ordinary for my extraordinary self,
magnetic and tensile, I have stood by the sandlot
and watched the boys play.
I have wanted courage, I have thought about fire
and the crossing of waterfalls, I have dragged around
my belly big with cowardice and safety,
my stool black with iron pills,
my huge breasts oozing mucus,
my legs swelling, my hands swelling,
my face swelling and darkening, my hair
falling out, my inner sex
stabbed again and again with terrible pain like a knife.
I have lain down.
I have lain down and sweated and shaken
and passed blood and feces and water and slowly alone in the center of a circle I have
passed the new person out
and they have lifted the new person free of the act
and wiped the new person free of that
language of blood like praise all over the body.
I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsburg, I have done this thing,
I and other women this exceptional
act with exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.
Ok, I'll stop posting and do actual homework now.