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Found writing

July 2, 2009

I wrote this in 1996, remembering being pregnant with Kieran. It was during the throes of the divorce and custody fight, and the tone reflects it:

Eight Down

I lost my toes this morning, when I stepped out of bed to draw the bath.

I keep losing things, parts of my burgeoning body, placidly accommodating the desired package which will present itself, screaming, in one long month. First, I lost my lap. The cat advised me of this. Padding softly across the back of the sofa, her inquisitive whiskers grazed my flushed cheek as she descended over my shoulder to the bubble of a belly that had once been my lap. She turned around slowly, kneading the offensive stretch panel that enclosed my distending flesh, and her needle-sharp claws seemed like they should burst the balloon. Apparently, the swelling belly agreed, for with an eerie jump of an errant, developing limb, the child within pops the cat off the polyester, furry legs and tail scrambling for balance in midair.

And now I have no toes, I think, as I lower myself into the hot bath and ease my grame, some 55 pounds heavier now, against the cold back of the porcelain tub. I can look down and see only breasts and stomach. That is all I am, the chamber of gestation and the vessel of lactation. I have arms, too, but they are no longer long enough to reach the flower of my womanhood–not to indulge myself, mind, but to ensure it’s still there, for I lost it about a month ago. And if that’s not there, how will my boy (I know it’s a boy) pass through? Will I have to be cut, violated by a wayward scalpel above my invisible pubis, my head severed by a sterile screen with only blinding white lights for company?

My belly button is disappearing too. In the bath, I can see the actual scar of my umbilicus, my birthday wound, long buried; a navel never noted for its glory days of Amnion, long expatriated. My son will have a navel someday, but first it must be a blackened, rotten reminder of the rope that used to tie us together–cut, useless, dead–and now a lint trap. Are these lint balls 22 years old, too?

I rise from the cooling water, and wrap my stomach in a towel. It sits like a tablecloth over me, full breasts atop it like mugs of steamed milk. I drag myself over to clothes than do not fit, wishing they better covered the silver-purple snakes that skid about my abdomen. The cute pink flowers pinch my crotch, and the shoes pinch my missing toes.

The calendar speaks: three and a half more weeks. The scale speaks: I have gained too much weight. The kitchen speaks: There is no more food. The wallet speaks: There is no more money. Society speaks: But I don’t know what it is saying. I am about to embark on the greatest most fulfilling failure of my life, and I know the truth. I am larger than life. I am invisible.

I have lost my body.

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