Thursday, November 16, 2006

Taking Life

Reading Alison Townsend's What I Never Told You About the Abortion was incredibly hard. As a woman and a mother, I try to reach out to the pain of a mother who is forced to take away life rather than create it - yet I can't . This is not the kind of suffering that can be simulated or emulated - you cannot claim empathy without having experienced what that mother has.

When you have known it and have the words to tell of it, you will write like Townsend - you will make the reader want to cry along with you - for you, hug you to soften the bristling edges of pain. For a moment you imagine that you understand the dense pattern of grief that produced these words.

That the table I lay on was cold. That there was a poster
of a kitten dangling from a tree limb, with the words "Hang in there, baby"

on the ceiling above me. That I turned names
over and over in my head like bright stones:

Caitlin, Phoebe, Rebecca, Siobhan
That the nurse wept with me, like some twentieth-century

Southern Californian fate, midwife to death
in her uniform printed with flowers.

That she wrapped my hands in her navy blue sweater.
That I described the thumb-size embryo inside me in all the obvious ways -

shrimp, peanut, little bud-wanting to open.
But not baby, never baby.

No comments: