Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Being Born

It is the big unseen, “Woops,” there I am. Someone says, “It is time now,” and mother pushes and tugs and clutches onto the bed railings.

As I come out of her womb, I hear an echo, far in the background, “It is your time now.”

Who said it I don’t know. There is some bloodshed in leaving this nearly one year home, cozy as it was, to enter these enormously larger surroundings. There are of course several moments child and mother collide, a series of little and final evictions, the nurse and the doctors are there watching all this, ready to sign the birth certificate, and asking what the name will be, one to christen this new being, being born, in this primitive savage way.

I am sure many have written on this subject, spoken on it, much better than I, I seek in brief only to recap it, perhaps for myself, I was born because my mother met and exercised the act of passion with a man called my father, a different father than my brother’s but that is neither here nor there, I was born 4:00 a.m., in the morning at St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Minnesota, October 7, 1947. In my case, my father left before I was named, before the certificate was even rolled out of the doctor’s drawer, and whereupon the nurse tried to grab me and replace me with a dead baby so another family might have a live infant, but no dice, my mother saw the scheme, and stopped it. You see she heard, “It’s a boy!” You don’t say that to a stillborn child; and then she never heard another word—and that provoked suspension, and the other family wanted a boy, and so she kept her eyes half open, demanded: “Bring my boy to me!”

Her first baby, some two years earlier, was a boy also, my brother of course, now she had potatoes and carrots. That is, my brother always liked potatoes; I on the other hand, had bright red hair, carrot hair. My brother was christened on the spot. It doesn’t matter how it all began, it all turned out okay, we were a family, but I wonder whatever happened to that other family unit—the two who almost made three, who had the stillborn? They couldn’t say, and didn’t say: “De tar en pojke” (…‘it is a boy! I’m sad for them, but glad for me’).

#894 (3-30-2012)