Under The Red Tent

Under The Red Tent

A Poem by Marie Harrison

A birth poem





















Under The Red Tent

The seasoned

Midwife’s pinnacle

Moment had come

She took her place on

The birthing bricks

Under the red tent



After years of waiting

Rachel’s passage into

Motherhood was finally here



Death’s ominous black shadow

Was present in the tent

Would he turn

To greet her

Or turn his back

to walk away?



Two of her loving mothers

Zilpah and Bilhah

Kneeled to her left

And to her right

To provide solid support

For Rachel's balance

So that she could securely

Stand on top of the bricks

While bearing her full

Weight on them



As a loving mother

Leah sat in front of Rachel 

To coach her

And to help guide her

Baby from her belly 

Through her womb

So Leah could catch

The infant when it dropped

From its birth canal



Rachel's contractions

Were getting closer and closer

All of her mothers

Were cooing and

Praising Rachel in

Between her contractions




The Bondswoman continued

Wiping Rachel's sweaty brow and

Offering bread soaked in sweet wine

To help strengthen Rachel





While Leah applied 

Soothing oils of mint

To ease in the

Birthing process




Hours of contractions

Had passed  but no birth yet

Poor Rachel was exhausted

Leah paused to carefully reach inside

Checking the position

Of the baby




Broad shoulders of the baby

Hampered its exit

But Rachel’s contractions kept

Coming more and more frequently




As Rachel’s pain intensified

She shrieked

Sharp cries that

Shook the earth

Forcing grown men

To shudder and tremble

As they restlessly

Waited nearby




“I need the knife!”

Leah requested

After she

Placed a cloth of

Fresh wool into

Rachel’s mouth

For her to bear down on

For her pain

As she bravely

Stood on her

Birthing bricks

Her flesh was cut

On both sides

Of her birth opening

For an easy passageway

For the baby





Into the wool and

Exhaling Rachel 

Made her final

Big push




With a great sense of relief

Rachel cried as her baby

Fell like ripe, plump fruit

From her womb

Into the bloody but open

Arms of Leah

Rachel’s own

Birth mother



In the next few weeks

With plenty of sleep

Fresh herbs

Warm ox broth

And much healing

Rachel 's health

Would soon be restored




 When Baby Joseph

Was born that day

Joy consumed

The blessed tribe

Life was fresh

And renewed

Under the red tent of Jacob






© 2011 Marie Harrison

Author's Note

Marie Harrison
I've been reading the book The Red Tent by Anita Diamante. I was surprised while reading their technique of birthing back then. I wanted to share my vision of their moment.

My Review

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the classic tone you deliver with ease... I would have never given consideration to such a historical fact, but penned in this poetic fashion it doesn't seem so dreadful. I see so much symbolism in here, even if it was not the intent (probably because my mind thinks in symbols), and I find myself review over certain phrases again and again to sink myself in this meaning I've created in my head. I love when a poem does that. Very unique and enjoyable, Marie.

Posted 9 Years Ago

Wow... that's intense. I would really hate to have a baby back then. Biting down on cloth while they... Ow! Still a great story. Thanks for sharing.

Posted 9 Years Ago

Thank you for sharing this story. I didn't know the pain woman had to go through to have a baby in the days of old. That why 1 in10 mothers died in birth. The story was very details and told of a different time. A outstanding story,. Thank you.

Posted 9 Years Ago

Back then it was hard times for woman in every thing we take for granted?

Posted 9 Years Ago

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Brilliant..your angle was interesting and unique..Jacob was renamed Israel by God..that is where we got my son's name from..not as so many people think the country!! Beautiful absolutely beautiful

Posted 9 Years Ago

This was a wonderful capture of such a scene... I wonder how well researched that technique of birthing is... I have never come across it before. Of course Rachel died in childbirth with her next - Benjamin.

This was a really moving description

Posted 9 Years Ago


THANK YOU for sharing..!!!

Posted 9 Years Ago

Nice, and ususally colored writing seems tacky, you most definitley did not. Loved the emotion as well

Posted 9 Years Ago

Very vivid in it's details.

Posted 9 Years Ago

Wow this is stunning great work!

Posted 9 Years Ago

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43 Reviews
Added on January 24, 2011
Last Updated on January 25, 2011
Tags: Ladies of the Red Tent, Biblical Birthing Practices, Jacob's Rachel Giving Birth To J


Marie Harrison
Marie Harrison

Atlanta, GA

Momma told me to get out and enjoy life, so now I'm going to dance. more..


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