THE DELIVERY | Scott Ruescher


In the introductory video at the museum to Maya medicine,

Museo de Medicina Maya, in San Cristóbal de las Casas, the capital

Of the southernmost Mexican state of Chiapas, dedicated

To the natural healing arts that are still actively practiced

Along the steamy border with equally Maya Guatemala

In the tropical-rainforest villages of Laconda, before seeing any

Of the actual exhibitions in the museum’s small galleries,

In the company of three older tourists whose impassive looks

And books on archaeology belied the warm demeanors

They’d cultivated for years at Midwestern universities,

We watched, from folding chairs in the foyer, with our daypacks

And our bottles of agua puríficado, on an old Motorola

Television monitor they’d planted on a foot stool, some grainy,

Anthropological, sixteen-millimeter, documentary footage

Of a midwife in huipil and braids working to bring a baby forth

In the traditional way, kneeling, to our surprise, behind

The upright, expectant mother, with a pail of water and a knife

That had probably been sterilized over the same open fire

They cooked their stews and tortillas on, preparing to cut

The umbilical cord, as the laboring woman, leaning forward

At the waist from her standing position, by golden candlelight

On the dirt floor of the thatched hut in the middle of the night,

Pushed and grunted and parted her thighs a little more,

Holding onto her stone-faced husband for support and dear life.

Scott Ruescher has won annual poetry prizes in recent years from Able Muse journal (2016), Poetry Quarterly (2015), and the New England Poetry Club (in both 2013 and 2014)— always with poems that are as geographically particular and sociologically focused as “The Delivery.” More such work can be found in his book, Waiting for the Light to Change, published by Prolific Press in 2017. Other recent poems have appeared in About Place, Pangyrus, Tower Journal, Solstice, and Origins Journal. He administers the Arts in Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and teaches English in the Boston University Prison Education Program.