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My skull pushed its way out with force, ripping her perineum, propelling me toward cigarette glow. Who was my mother then? She was known for her disdain of sex, her love of Maine lobster and her sad, swollen eyelids. “Shrimp,” Ma beamed, kissing my wet, angry head.
Maria braided my hair, carried me to the bathtub before sun-up. Tepid water surrounded my navel. After school, she gave me and my friends modern dance lessons in our living room. We were starfish summersaulting to shore, bubbling with talent, drying out on the carpet.
In young adulthood, men liked my hips. They looked capable of pushing a big baby out. As predicted, he popped out right on time, no drugs needed. “Man that baby’s swarthy!” the nurse said. A few random husbands followed, smiling their way up through family photos. Poking their nosy heads out of the past.
If you can ignore the froth, you’ve done okay, I told my son.
When I first got sick, my current husband said “Look at Lance Armstrong for God’s sake. He fixed himself up! Kefir did it, cured him!” I became a triathlete, packed whiskey in a pretty little flask, pinched string cheese here and there on the sly.
My dark-haired lover explained marriage was like an animal. “There’s a smell when it dies,” he said. I let my marriage trickle out.
I’m a helium balloon attached to an air supply. One of my nurses is Gina. I would have liked to have had her face, her tenderness, her wonderful breath.
It’s interesting to imagine giving birth to oneself in this hospital. One of the nurses gives me sponge baths. I’m not sure why she bothers, but I like her attention. I remember the smell of Ma’s cigarette smoke, the freedom she felt while sucking on fire. Here in the hospital, people float in and out, but they don’t stay long enough.
Copyright 2019 Meg Pokrass
Meg Pokrass is the author of many books including The Dog Seated Next to Me published by Pelekinesis.