Friday, May 21, 2010
Excerpt from my short story "Hunger in America"
The sheets were soiled with shit and animated globs of red and brown blood that spread in a web of streams. The pale woman consumed the air about her in a way previously unfamiliar to her. She inhaled it, forcefully, from her oral, vaginal and nasal openings. Her body blown with cool, slow-rising air. She swallowed the accumulated thick salty spit in her mouth and closed her eyes to its slow descent down her throat, into her wide, empty belly. It was this moment that blessed her with the name mother. She took the baby by its wet rolls of fat, pressing her fingers into them, slipping her own sallow hard skin under the rolls' bright, flushed colors. We are one skin, she thought. The baby smelled of her, hot and metallic. She began to search for herself in the baby's crumply features that still looked stuck inside the skin, like small pink buds that hadn't flowered. But she was convinced that this baby - this baby that she had been feeding and consuming for months, and that she had finally thrown up - was she. Like a part of her that had just been violently broken off. The baby started to cry. The mother was surprised by this, that it had a voice of its own. She listened to the crying pleasingly. She was fascinated by the fact that these sharp, cutting wails came from somewhere inside of her.
"She's probably hungry," the nurse said half-irritated. The mother looked back at the nurse with those white-stained eyes of her that made her gaze broken, distracted. The mother took the baby to her breast and let it wildly suck on her nipple. The breast responded to the gravity of the baby's mouth as it moved and inflated and deflated to the flood of milk. The mother emptied, poured herself into this other self, a feeling that left her whole body mumbling.