After Birth

After Birth 1920 1280 Archana Sridhar

They told us to wrap him up tightly and play on repeat
the sounds of somebody’s heart beating in the womb –
WHOOSH WHOOSH. Sometimes in the dark, on the hardwood,
I pretended I was in my mother’s womb, who was in her
mother’s womb, and so on.

It’s amazing how the body shields itself, said the doctors
as I struggled week after week to rise from the floor
of my pelvis and walk. Behind my eyes, gray fog
grew indistinguishable from the sounds
of the nearby highway.

One day, I found a spotted fawn in the garden, curled up
like Bambi. I nabbed it, swaddled its limp bones and fur
in pashmina. It cried out for its mother, who raced to
meet me at the forest line. I bent and released the babe
like a talisman to its rightful owner.

Whenever they forecast a hurricane, we pasted
creamy X’s in masking tape the size of people
on the glass doors to the patio and the bedroom windows
so they could crack and break if they had to,
but not fall apart.

Header photograph © Kaila Skeet-Browning.

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