“A Picture of Our Sister”

Originally published in Motherscope Magazine’s Oh Mama!: A Collection of Birth Stories, vol. 1, January 2019.

copyright (c) 2019 by Anjoli Roy

screen shot 2019-01-07 at 7.07.37 pm

If I could take a picture of our sister, I’d want to take it today, after the morning mist rose off the evergreen trees in silver morning light, when the afternoon came and went like a hot hand, when the sun sail was slack in the corner and the sun had slipped behind pink clouds turned black with promise.

If I could take a picture of our sister, she’d be standing at the threshold of here and there, the dark doorway contracting in and out those of us drifting onto the deck, so many fish around their strong reef.

If I could take a picture of our sister, she’d be calling her sixth baby home from that threshold, saying she’s ready, and having baby come, just like that, wide-eyed and alert as her face surfaced the birthing tub, and she took in her papa and iya, two of her brothers, her sister, her dadu, her masis, with a look that said, quietly, that, yes, this is about what she had been expecting.

If I could take a picture of our sister, she’d be comforting her fifth born, now no longer the last, into the birthing tub, as she tried to explain the umbilical cord that still meant she and the baby were one body.

If I could take a picture of our sister, she’d be crossing into the house, so she could put her fifth born to sleep, the newborn in her arms, the afterbirth not yet born.

If I could take a picture of our sister, she’d be easing the distance from the birthing tub to her bed with her girls in her and her husband’s hands, walking careful, so as not to bleed on the carpets.

If I could take a picture of our sister, she’d be on her bed, wrung from countless contractions and all that pushing, that calling, that standing on thresholds, her two-and-a-half-year-old flanking her left side and stretched out like a starfish determined to touch all the corners of the world, even in her sleep, and curled in the nook of her right arm her brand-new, coconut-oiled baby whose quick-quick breath signals someone who has come a long way and knows exactly where she is.

oh-mama-cover

Advertisements