In Utero

Tonight, I take a bath. Because the drain is broken still, a bath is its own labor. When I am done, I have to haul the water from the tub inside a bucket—trip after trip—until the tub sits empty. I have to weigh the cost. Tonight, it is worth it.

Tonight, I take a bath and ponder what it means to bleed. In a climate seemingly eager for bloodshed, I sit inside a bath and feel the quaking cycle of my womb. The cramping hurts. My heart, also, feels its own quaking as it mourns the men I’ve lost. That hurts too. Tonight, I wonder how anybody at all could want more blood to spill. The entire physicality of my body protests this. My spirit, mind, soul—it cannot wrap itself around the concept. Are we not tired of watching broken people keep on breaking?

Perhaps it is this cycle. That is the root of it, yes? A cycle of bloodshed from my body how it changes me each month. A cycle of bloodshed from my family, 3 of us in 20 years it doesn’t seem like much but to me, now, it is everything. And yet, still, some of you want more of it. Perhaps you have not seen enough blood.

Perhaps if you, every month for 16 years, had looked down at the blood on your own body, you wouldn’t yearn for it as fervently. Perhaps if you, a hundred times and more, had held your grandmother’s frail and failing hand and hoped that your love could keep her living through despair, you wouldn’t want for it as much. You wouldn’t speak of people as an other, but spend the energy of anger on our healing.

As I sit inside the bath, pondering the cycles of the blood loss I’ve endured, I wonder if perhaps my men did not die from violence, but instead from a failure of love. A body’s protest to the climate of the world—a protest to dwindling empathy. Isn’t everything perspective?

Their deaths were violent, and they died in violence, but I am not certain that it was this that killed them. How much hurt can one small human heart bear before it turns a gun onto its chest? The answer: a lot. Because a death like that is desperation at its core.

Women are forced by nature to recall their births. We are relentlessly reminded of the frailty of human life each month when we lie groaning on a bed. In our fetal positions, knees to chest, remembering our mothers and the ways that we developed. We know it, intimately. It is a gift that is uniquely ours. But men, society has allowed them to forget.

We have allowed our men to forget that tether to mother—to the womb, to life, and to life’s implicit value. We have not loved them as we should.  They are not reminded by their bodies, and we, the women, have forgotten all our work of the reminding.  We have forgotten to extend them grace.

Nature has demanded more from us, and I wonder when we all will listen. Even now, she is dying all around and everywhere, so few of us concerned with the bloodshed of the mother. So out of touch.

You must not have seen enough death yet, little dove, if you still long for more. You must still be sitting in your anger. Seething. Have you learned to breathe?

Take a breath with me. Close your eyes and inhale deeply, and in the eye of your own mind picture every loss. Count them. Are they enough to fill a breath? Are they enough to make your chest feel tight? Are there enough losses for your lips to turn blue and your jaw to strain and your eyes to bulge with lapsing oxygen?

Poor heart.

Release your breath, and recognize your value. It is implicit. Your life is sacred, and the worth of it cannot be changed by anything that you might say or do.

You are tethered to the mother. Do not lose your way back to her.

27 thoughts on “In Utero

  1. “We have allowed our men to forget that tether to mother—to the womb, to life, and to life’s implicit value. We have not loved them as we should.” Powerfully written, Shayleene. Now I know why I get these urges to call my men and tell them how important they are, like I did first thing this morning. Tending the ties that bind us to one another. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are so talented. I feel like everything you write is something that I’d read in an esteemed literary magazine. THIS is the kind of literary fiction I’d read! Most other stuff is so overly fluffed and trying too hard.
    I hope you submit to every stinking literary journal out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Words are a work in evolution–evolution of the hearts and of the mind and of the processes. I feel so honored to share this space with so many others who are doing their own healing work. I hold these relationships close to my heart. I am grateful you are here sharing your work, so that we may connect. Thank you for your words and your time. Big love ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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