How Many Times Can a Woman Split Open?


Did she catch a glimpse of what was coming as she split open and
pushed him with the strength of horses into this world?
In that moment, when life and death and blood and air
weave themselves together so inextricably,
did she have any sense, then, that he was being pulled into the dark?
Or did the smell of his head, damp from her love, woo her more?

Those first few months, blurry with fatigue and loneliness and flowing milk,
did she fear the flaming words and empty promises hurled across the flat?
Or did she knit her frayed nerves into beautiful tapestries and sing them over her baby,
praying with the Saints for protection and mercy and escape?
Women do this, you know.

When she decided to cross an ocean and start over, how many times did she
rewrite the story in her head? How many times did she rehearse the truth so that
it sounded like progress? What kinds of words spill from the mouth of a woman running towards
freedom? What colors drip from the heels of love spun new?

Years later, when she sat upright in bed, body wet, yet again, from the lies her head had spilled
on her while sleeping, did she reach out for him? Did her mother’s heart intuit the ways that
he would plot escape? How does a blond headed boy with flaming energy and a snaggle tooth grin lose his way from Love? What tow lines did he cut when his mother was turned towards labor and sacrifice? Why did he stop choosing her?

And now? When he swallows all those colors or puts metal to skin and crosses over into numbness, what thoughts win in her mind? Does she recount all the years they’ve danced this nightmare? Does she tally all it has cost her? Does she remember her name?

Or is it the little boy she sees? The spitfire love ball who ran in the woods and drank tea in the mornings and loved his brother? How does she breathe when both of these beings occupy her entire chest space and call out for her?
Fight and let go, fight and let go.
Life and death and blood and air.
How many times can a woman split open?