Derricotte, Toi

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Squier, Harriet
  • Date of entry: Dec-10-1996


In "Delivery," an African-American woman deals with the issues of personal identity for herself and her soon-to-be-born child. This child is alternatively a scheming enemy, a gentle baby, and an awesome stranger. Similarly, the staff around the speaker are variously accomplices in a persecutory treatment, or helpmates in a difficult but joyful experience. The male doctors tend not to listen to the speaker, who herself has trouble knowing to what part of her own feelings she should listen. By the end, the narrator gives birth to a male son, whom she wants to protect, but who feels like a stranger.


This long, wonderful, and difficult poem is dense with imagery and poetic language that challenges our thinking about the identity of the individual woman and how she constructs her identity. The childbirth experience forces her to confront "That black woman in my throat," and to give her voice.

She must also confront the fatherlessness of her child and her new role of motherhood. The process of childbirth gives both mother and child new identity, redefining the identities the speaker had imparted to them earlier in the poem. The reader can readily see how interference by doctors can detract from the mother's experience of empowerment and redefinition.

Primary Source

Natural Birth: Poems



Place Published

Trumanburg, N.Y.