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Womb or Wound

I was born my mother when I was very young. So I am told. It was painful being born with that womb. It was painful being born from that wound. It was painful. I get the words mixed up. One could say they are the same though I am sure one seldom has. The flesh, the blood, the life pulsating out. It was hard to tell the difference. Some tried, others failed.

I think my mother was happy to let her go, and in that sadness, she did not mind me. It made less sense to do so. Less than a lot. More than a little. Whatever the amount, I did not mind. The transaction was seamless. It seemed less. It was my choice to be the baby. I have not regretted it as such. It did not feel as if I had a choice, and if I did, there was only one option or none. That was my focal point, and I saw nothing. Everything that happened at the periphery did not have my attention. I did not see the exact sounds. I did not hear all the inanimate objects. I did not feel the none that slipped out the door. Time stood still on my watch or by the door. It was quiet, too.

The breath is drawn in with the familiar sound of dying. The hospital bed is placed with the headboard against the south wall, and a window faces a courtyard. It has an air mattress for sores alone. On the table next to the visitor’s chair is a newspaper page with Friday’s crossword puzzle not having any letters for the clue Toughens for 71 across. Also on the table are no pencil and an eraser. The daughter-mother-sisters sit on other chairs. One has curly hair, and one wears a nice cardigan set when she is at work, and one is almost always identical to one, at least on the inside and outside. During the night, they have sung the song about how it will be quiet once the circus princess stops in her tracks, and death is over. Those three conditions are not mutually exclusive. No one can say the cause is suicide by cancer. The breath seeps out. Later or much later, it starts to snow, where the spirit has lingered and crystallized. That is usual. None of this is ever mentioned in the notice that is never brought on Monday.

After decades or minutes, we switched motherhood again but always in the same direction. That is how I forget it. It drowns in my past. She learned to swim on dry land which, in theory, is sufficient. I could not learn it from a book. That is why I don’t go near deserts unless I move from place to place and sometimes but not always that is necessary. I have to what I have to do. There is one other path, but it is less traveled as it can be found on a map.

On a day, the mother softened into a little ball between us. It could not fit into the space with its sharper curves and duller edges. That might have been the month we ended. I can’t be sure who began first, but I am almost certain we came in second.

When I was in the hospital giving birth, I worried that I could not remember to speak. What does a mother not speak? Mothers say things all the time unless it is nap time. They are careful not to say a word. There also could be nothing to say—end of discussion. No one says it has to begin before it ends. Because I said so. That is a useful word, I. I should hold onto that. In the end, I could not forget every single word. It is clear to me that I was fading in and out. Giving birth was redundant as I had already had my mother as a child for a long time. So in the grand scheme of things, insofar there is one, I did not have to worry about the words, only the person behind them.

I grew up my mother. It was at a different time when that was common. She was years before me. She had children late, but that did not matter as long as she could be mine.


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