Eric A. Weil
ON BEING OFFERED MY DAUGHTER’S PLACENTA
Holding my half-hour-old, healthy baby,
I don’t understand the midwife’s question
at first. She points at the filmy glob;
a dead jellyfish, beached. Anthropology
lesson: the Navajo and the Maori bury
the placenta in sacred, ancient soil.
Some Chinese and Vietnamese families
eat it, mash a paté or brew a broth
to share genes, strengthen mother’s milk.
But we are vegetarian suburbanites
planning another move, so we decline.
A placenta is no more than a bio-fuel filter;
the midwife drops it like unused egg whites
into a stainless steel bowl for incineration.
Placental protection finished, my daughter starts
a new round of wailing as we turn toward her future.
Author’s Comment: “Do you want the placenta?” The question surprised me because no one asked it three years earlier when our son was born. Our daughter will be 27 a few days before this poem appears, which is an indication of how long it takes me to grind experience into poetry. In one of life’s grand coincidences, I am happy to report that she has just learned that she is pregnant. I suspect that if asked, she too will decline the offer.
I love the way you describe the placenta. I like that you don’t make it sound like something vile, there are some people that believe that it is just too gross to even look at. I don’t think that I’d keep it if asked! But I do hear that you can use it for medical purposes if you do keep it banked!