Cherríe Moraga, the celebrated Chicana lesbian writer, has crafted a jewel of a book in Waiting In The Wings: Portrait of a Queer Motherhood. This is the story of "one small human being's struggle for survival", the author's two-and-one-half pound premature baby boy.
While the specifics belong to Moraga and her loved ones – her large close-knit biological clan; her long-term partner; the child's father – the tale is told in common with every woman who has experienced the wonder and terror of pregnancy, the trauma of a child's near-death. What is uncommon is that the mother is a lesbian, a writer, a Chicana – all in the same breath of her storytelling.
"Lesbians don't make babies with our lovers," she writes. "Our blood doesn't mix." What does mix in Waiting In The Wings are blood and queer relations, Mexican Catholicism and Indian ceremony, butch and femme, life and death – creating the carne y huesos not only of a baby, but of a family. Familia the author holds to in the grip of labor, sister in one hand, lover in the other. Family whose history she sees written in the dried parchment that is a dying uncle's skin.
"I am trying to write about the impossible. The ordinary beginning and ending of a life," Cherríe Moraga tells us. So ordinary, in fact, that perhaps Waiting In The Wings is not that "queer" after all.