Jourdan Keith

Consider the Waters


Her water broke
just before the levees

the warning signals trickling down her thighs
had exceeded her expectations, although

this was the second time, and she had
damned the passage with sanitary napkins,

created a wall that made her waddle,
thighs chaffed and burning

the dipsy-doodle flesh bulging
around her panty lines.

The cotton boundaries were no match
the synthetic walls did not hold back

this nation’s birthing again
Her water broke

just before the levees
so she took a shopping cart

ride from the brother she’d sometimes
been afraid of

He put down the TV he was hauling

I guess I’ll watch the sky
to see what news is comin’

He asked her to hold on,
hold on, hold on ‘cause

He’d already seen too much
too many gray water memories

hold on
and he started running, humming

Grandmother, he started singing daddy
He told her to breathe

that he knew about babies comin’
and they do all right without

Her water broke

just before the levees
before the sound of betrayal and fear

exploded across memory
He told her
hold on


Jourdan Keith is a VONA, Hedgebrook and Jack Straw alum. Voted 2007 Seattle’s Poet Populist, her awards include Seattle’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, 2004 for the writing and solo performance of the play “The Uterine Files” and 2010 for her memoir Coyote Autumn which is included in the anthology Something to Declare. A student of Sonia Sanchez, she is a playwright, storyteller and Seattle Public Library’s first Naturalist-in-Residence.