Once a year, my local bookstore, Village Books provides a writing challenge. This year I was to write something relating to the theme Interconnectedness. Yes, it’s a mouthful. But in the end, we and everything on this planet from the solar system right down to the food chain is connected. I knew immediately what I wanted to submit. In my memoir, In Search of Pink Flamingos, I wrote in Part II, the chapter entitled “Country Birth,” there was a connectedness that I felt witnessing this most incredible birth. I decided to convert a portion of that chapter into a poem. And Voila, it was selected as one of many entries in this anthology, now my 9th publication.

There was so much in that chapter, but I wanted to focus on connection and it worked beautifully in this poetic conversion. Here is an except of my newly published poem, “Survival.

In a small, remote village
in upcountry Liberia, 
eight women gathered 
in a smoky dark round hut
for one purpose,
to facilitate a woman’s childbirth. 

Fanta, a woman in labor, 
lay on the earthen floor. 
A wood fire burned, 
the only illumination in the hut.
Five indigenous midwives presided, 
no formal training, 
only years of experience.

Honored to witness this natural miracle,
as a Peace Corps volunteer, 
I was to observe and learn, 
not interfere.
At age twenty, 
with a practical nursing license, 
I wasn’t sure what I’d learn.

(.......Several stanzas later a baby boy is born.)

Two weeks after the danger passed,
Fanta and Paul John thrived.
Fanta’s delivery 
taught me many things.
But most of all,
the women met their shared goal – 
survival of mother and baby. 

Eight women gathered with
diversity of tribe, 
language, and religion. 
joined as one,
they chose collaboration 
and cooperation over
and self-righteousness. 

Their collective power – 
support, know-how, and faith – 
achieved a good outcome.
Interconnectedness made 
them stronger, 
and successful.

As the ninth woman, 
I, too, played a role.
From another race, 
another language, 
and another culture,
I reflected upon 
their important example 
to the world.

Can we eliminate 
our prejudice and intolerance 
to learn from those courageous women?
Can we take the knowledge
and strengths we each possess 
to work together,
to interconnect 
to achieve a shared goal – 
our survival?

Innterconnectedness can be purchased at Village Books in Bellingham, WA by clicking the highlighted link. You will be able to read the rest of my poem as well as other wonderful short stories and poems from other authors. Also check out my memoir at  https://susangreisen.com/

6 thoughts on “Are We Connected?

  1. Beautiful, Susan! It brings back such rich memories of the strength and resilience of the Liberian women. Thank you, and congratulations on the poem’s publication! I’m looking forward to the anthology of stories in June.

    Liked by 1 person

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