Midwife’s Hands

Illustration by Emma Lloyd

You have a midwife’s hands.

I was born by midwife. A woman brought me into the world, guiding me through caves and tunnels, around stalagmites and into the light. Her hands cleaned my body, untethered my umbilical cord, carefully counted ten fingers and toes. No hospitals or doctors or florescent rooms, just a woman’s hands slapping my back to make my lungs catch the air.

And now you come, with hands like a midwife’s. They make my lungs catch more air than they can hold, but before I can exhale, you fill me again with the need to taste all the air in the room. You change my breath, guide it through my body in unfamiliar rhythms. Your hands are slow. They trace me down my sides and over my belly, up my knees and thighs. They linger in the connections and hollows between places – between my breasts, in the gap between hip and thigh, playing with the hollows of vulva and labia, words that are medical and magical at the same time. Your hands are fast and slow. They trace circle after circle, slip inside, open me as if you are unwrapping a gift. You have a midwife’s touch after all, coaxing from the body what it most wants to give.

My body wants to give you tide pools with starfish and mollusks and caves to explore. It has never wanted more to be a shoreline for you to walk along, for you to press your feet into the sand and say I have been here, at least for a second before the water washes any trace of you away. My body wants to give you an ocean where you can pull life from amniotic fluid and fill your hands with gifts for the world.

Sometimes, I am filled with fear that I am just a body. If there are no universes carried in my belly, if you find nothing when you reach into me, then maybe I am just void. Luckily, you are no doctor. You peel back skin without searching for fallopian twists to untangle with metal implants. You are not one to pathologize my hollow spaces. Instead, when I worry this way, you press your ear against my hips and listen to the little rumbles and squeaks and cellular sounds. You tell me that if I am just an echo chamber, at least you like the sounds I make.

When your hands reach into me, they find the dark holding spaces of my body. They hook inside and pull me up, down, up, tidal shores drawing me closer to you in shivers and aftershocks. I am giving birth to moons and anemones. Beneath the curve of my belly, there are pomegranates and lapis lazuli skipping stones. Your hands hover around me, guiding my breath and bringing the hidden to life.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. When I hear women loving women who clearly love themselves, I feel safe in my world.

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