Today I gave birth to myself

Today I gave birth to myself.
Squalling bundle of nerves and blood
And flesh protruding out
Of my mother’s all-encompassing soul.

I want to tell you
About my mother.
She with her bloody hands,
(chopping pork on a wooden block)
a butcher at that.
I took after her, this impatience
With meat.

I gave birth to myself.
The long gestation took me through
Antiseptic corridors,
Tunnels of guts… flesh… fibers… fluids
(God knows it was messy like war)
It didn’t have the neatness of death.
But then, I was afraid to die.
Over and over, I chose to live.
(My mother did not have that choice;
Her her-2-neu receptors failed her)
So for my mother, I gave birth
To myself.

How was I to know that birth
Is a death in itself?
Being born is leaving the quiet
Steadiness of the womb,
The thumping consistent rhythm
Of mommy’s heart.
I did not choose to be born
(the same way my mother did not choose to die –
but I forgive her anyway).

She gave me her heart.
Her butcher’s heart was steady.
It had to be, or else
She would have lost ten fingers
At the first thwack!

Her fingers,
Her heart
Gave birth to me
As I gave birth to myself.

 

2010

 

 

 

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