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Sophie Monatte

Postpartum

 

        Still looking out the window, she switches on the bedside lamp, dismissing the night, its predictable shadows. In the glare of the light, her reflection comes into view, a naked body—unfamiliar, slack.

        Her face, the reliability of its features, she can identify with. Her body developed a life of its own, as though it belongs to                                                 

“Someone else?”

An uninvited frame—

unmatched together

by mistake

reassembled fragments

 

        She brushes her hair back over her shoulders. Tension in her chest disrupts the movement, a stream of blood forcing inside her bust, like maggots swarming on rot.

A lingering physical connection.

“It’s almost time,” whispers her body.  

An invisible umbilical cord.

 

“He’s about to wake up. Can you feel it?”

        Her breasts, cruel as stone, are filling up. She tugs at the darkened veins carved across her areolas, as if pain might quiet the prickling sensation, as if she could severe the cord. Once and for all.

“Feel it in your veins.”

        She lets go of the flesh. Milky drops slip away from the tip of her breasts, like melting wax dripping down a candlestick.

 

“He’s up.”

She turns off the light, anxious for familiarity.

        The familiarity of the city at night, its sky like crimson cotton candy, the shadow of a building in construction, a sleeping crane on top, a deserted street, a red light idly turning green for no one, a hill in the background, spared.

A car by the side of the road seems to be waiting for the improbable passage of a passer-by.

 

“Listen.”

“Babbles. A melody for you,”

“For us.”

        Still in the dark, she lights a cigarette. The tobacco heats up fast, burns her lips. She lets the smoke float in front of her eyes, blurring her vision, never hazing her mind.

        Outside, a shadow blacker than the night draws her attention, an eagle owl gliding through the sky, hunting to feed its offspring.

 

“He’s getting restless.”

        She flicks the lighter. The flame trembles as it comes close to her belly button, protuberance attempting an escape. A mole on the side of her waist has been displaced, the illusion of certainty coming to an end. Silver paths snake down her stomach, from her skin having stretched to the point of tearing, forced to accommodate the swelling of her womb.

 

“He demands worship.”

        She lets go of the lighter, surrounds herself with darkness. She reaches out to grasp her belly, its skin as submissive as wet clay. She longs to squeeze this excess out of her, squeeze everything out of her.

        Her nails slice into the flesh, leaving their own ephemeral marks. All she feels are her eyes stinging, giving her a clue: her mind and body might be one entity after all.

Nothing is too painful, now. Nothing prevents thinking.

“Cries.”

 

“Cries.”

        Sliding down her body, underneath her vagina, her hand hesitates. Her fingertips brush against a wound stitched to resemble the untamed shape of lightning.

“Tear it apart.”

She could. This sacred epidermis prone to laceration during birth—that rape from the inside.

 

Behind her, the door slams open. Can’t she hear the cries? Didn’t she want to be a mother?

A mother.

“Cry!”

She blinks away, blinks away the crude brightness as the light is switched on, the door left open.

She turns around, towards the door, open.

“Close it.”

        Outside, down the road, the car starts up, drives away. A trickle of blood runs down her thigh, a postpartum bleeding—the response of a woman’s body to loss. 

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