Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Man On The Ladder (not a poem)

The day Sophie was stillborn brought on a collage of moments. Some of them were good--I felt better when I took the medications they gave me. I drank my first coffee in nine months--it was bitter, but it tasted like the Catherine I knew. Friends visited even when we told them to stay home. I could take my solace in drifting off into space, eyes locking into what was simply emptiness. That's all I can think of, actually. It hurt (and remembering it hurts) more than anything I hope you can imagine. And then there was leaving the hospital. We packed up our bags. I squirmed into the clothes I thought would fit when I imagined my body post-baby. If she'd been there, I wouldn't have minded bursting with all the remaining weight. Or maybe I would have, but I wouldn't have wished it all would decay and fall away all around me. A piles of bones in the hospital vestibule. But, we brushed our teeth. I showered with the water on boiling hot. They brought me down in the wheelchair, like the moms on tv. Poor Bill carried the diaper bag, and he might remember what else. Maybe it was our maternity tags, or my fat, tear-bloated face, or the way I held those yellow roses like a new baby. Swaddled in their green plastic. But someone knew. A man, late forties. About two steps up a ladder. He looked over as the nurses wheeled me out. His eyebrow went up, and those dark brown eyes asked in eye language, "A baby?" I looked right back, the first eyes I'd met in days. I shook my head ever so slightly and my face crumpled. "No baby." In a gesture I'll never forget, his head dipped to the right, and his hand went to his heart, then palm out toward me. He knew, he understood. That was the first time I felt someone might have known. That man on that ladder.

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