March 2020

Back to Issue 7

Speaking to Siddattha about his birth

By Judith Beveridge


                                   From Suddhodana’s Poems

We felt the weight of the waiting. You were late, late.

Maya paced with an awkward gait on exhausted legs,

on aching feet. This went on, this waiting, pacing,

day after day, and still the waters would not break.


We entreated the gods, the priests, until the air was ripe

with shrieks: ox cries, horse screams, goat bleats.

So much blood, so much meat. Was this our mistake,

we Gotamas, the elite, draping altars with blood


like coverlets of red silk, seizing more and more

of the town stock, expecting sacrifice to change fate?

Oh, you were late, late. Finally, I told the mid-wives

to break your mother’s waters—we didn’t know


if you were son or daughter; we were tired of waiting,

its aching duration. You were late, late. Yes, something

beyond consoling was done. Maya bled away after your birth.

But you were robust, resplendent—and—you were son.