From birth to death, life is a messy proposition. Sanity, strength, hilarity, tears: I get through one thing after another thanks to my women friends who come bearing gifts and sorrows for one another.

This poem is for you, my true goddsibbs.


Birthing room etymology

by Sara Eisenberg


On any given day

I ponder

your dear faces:


and you

and you,

my godsibbs,

women I would invite

into my lying-in room,

my dying-in room

where fluids leak

sour, briny, pungent.

You have your wits about you,

words precise, blessed, musical,

walk right into trouble,


at the ready,

to cut or cut out,


at the ready

to mend or embellish,

soft cloths and lavender water

at the ready

to cool a feverish brow.

Your strewing herbs are

affection, regard, discretion –

with them you refresh the air, comfort us

in this dark, warm chamber.

Through what meanness,


listening at the keyhole,

did affections thus exchanged

become idle, trifling,

and the speakers





Image is fabric on canvas by Kenneth Ngosi that I photographed at the Hillsborough, NC Gallery of Arts.


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  1. This is a lovely poem, Sara. We need poetry so right now, and godsibbs, too. As always, thank you for your timely, lyrical words. Deb

    • Thanks, Deb. I’ve been feeling the pull more and more recently back to the generous white space of poetry, white space making itself visible in the presence of the onslaught of words in the world. As for goddsibbs, in my opinion, we are the bones and blood of the present and the future.

  2. Sara,
    This poem took my breath away. And introduced me to the the word goddsibs. Can you explain it for me? When I read your words I get the sense of a generous, warm, inviting sisterhood who stand at the ready to offer whatever is needed whenever it is needed, unlike the gossips at the door. Am I close?
    Much, much love.

    • Ah, yes, the etymology. Goddsibbs was used centuries ago to describe the close relationship among women that would, for instance, have them be present for one another in the birthing room. By a process which I invite you to imagine, the word “came to mean” gossip.

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