Jan/Feb 2022  •   Poetry  •   Special Feature

Sky Baby

by Jayanthi Rangan

Sky Baby

The baby was born on
a military evacuation aircraft
and was named after it—Reach

This field room was
without doctor or natal bed
scarves curtained the delivery
and gave privacy
to the new arrival and her mom
from the curious eyes
readily available hair-ties were
used to cut the umbilical cord
baby's pulse monitored
using a fit-bit
life emerged
and the refugee stowaway
appeared as extra passenger

On an African safari I'd seen
a dripping pregnant Zebra
on a survival run
the claw-predators chased her
and the gasps
of tourists pursued the mom-to-be
with their video lenses
but the foal didn't appear
nature had put birthing
on hold during crisis mode

But in the evacuee's mind
on the USA plane
the calamity was behind
she was relaxed
enough to let the baby
emerge in a cargo hold
like turtles swim back
to the shores of their origins

Reach will one day visit
C-17—the home of her birth
to claim her roots and spread
a shade of gratitude
strength and generosity
as indebted people do