Table of Contents - Vol. VIII, No. 3
Molly Sutton Kiefer
It was the last night the dogs would sleep with us.
It came just after midnight, just after the newness of the year,
and I heff-hefted myself up, that one-two! lift,
I’d begun to glob, to glop, to hear the plop and fizz of me.
Water-broken, I called out, and he came out of the curtain of our bedroom,
and I balanced myself on toilet’s edge. Every time I stood,
I’d leak more and more, I’d gush. My eyes felt wild, that rolling
through the guide: tell me what happens next. We kept time
in a notebook, three minutes, two, one. Then began the calls: my parents,
my oldest friend, the hospital. We made our way in the crispest of nights,
walked through the emergency room doors, the sun not even awake.
Our companions lined up snacks on the windowsill, my father eating
out of boredom and my eyes screwed up tight, the sound of his
crunch-crunch-crunch startling shivers down my empty spine.
Glory and get-out. When it became clear this would last into the next day,
a nurse set up an empty room for my guests. Nothing still:
not nothing, everything. But only a centimeter more, and another.
I began to hate that dappled painting, the one I’d stare at, trying to imprint
the bridge on my eye, to memorize the water, and I’d feel the moan
come from the deepest center of me, finding my way out.
From one moonrise to the next, I resisted, then the jagged lines of
a forty-minute contraction—not one, but many, an onslaught—and then
that tilt-table check, the findings: twenty-four hours and I’d only reached
three lousy centimeters. The needle went in, and out and in and out,
and I felt that fat rope of blood down my back, the cross of contractions
and the man with the fish scrub cap, his frustrated breath, my frustrated spine.
Then, the weight of my legs, asleep, my body humming beneath me,
the trickle of urine into a warm bag, the chug as it all continued on.
My arms had strings pulling me, my puppeted attachments. All I could think:
I wanted to feel her body exiting mine, that last kick. My audience was losing
interest: my father watched a muted football game, my friend paged a novel.
The lighting was all wrong, the fluoresced way I’d meet my child.
The tile was dingy, the handwriting on the white board tilted, wrong.
My wild eyes and he slipped his hand into mine, was my witness to what went on
behind the curtain, our daughter came spilling into the world,
my belly slick and rubbed red and raw. She didn’t call out at first,
simply gave a grumpy glare, a little leprechaun with her hips
displaced, feet tangled in the last cord. I looked into her face,
and thought hard enough to hear: this is the body rewriting itself.
© Molly Sutton Kiefer