From the late nineteenth century onward, studies on the Maghreb relate the belief that a child can ‘fall asleep’ in its mother’s womb. It is thought that a sudden traumatic experience in the life of the mother, or the return of her menstrual blood, can arrest the development of a fetus. – Willy Jansen, “Sleeping in the Womb: Protracted Pregnancies in the Maghreb,” The Muslim World
The child in the womb
slumbers for seven years.
Magic courses through the Maghreb
like an herbal concoction
leaking from a woman’s water-filled womb.
During the cursed drought
the daughter dreams — a blood clot
suspended until rains fall again,
waking her — turning and wheeling
back to the size of a pearl,
a carob pod, an orange.
Ray Ball (she/her) grew up in a house full of snakes. Originally from Oklahoma, she currently lives on the land of the Dena’ina, where she works as a history professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She is the author of the chapbooks Tithe of Salt (Louisiana Literature, 2019) and Lararium (forthcoming with Variant Lit) and a poetry editor at Coffin Bell. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including descant, Glass, and The Noctua Review. Ray has received nominations for Pushcart and Best of the Net. You can find her on Twitter @ProfessorBall.
Artwork: Rob Woodcox, Floating By