Published on June 30th, 2020 | by Becca Rose Hall



You were the size of a grain of quinoa when we learned about you. A lentil when you bled out of me. Your daddy took the tissue that came out in his hands and searched for you. He didn’t find you, but I can feel you are gone.

My uterus was an orange, solid, swollen. Now, an empty sack. How quickly my body came back to me, my breasts no longer fantastical. A precision returned to my brain.

I want to speak to you as if you were a child. I want to teach you wonder and kindness and love. But if you are anything you are endless. Raw life, slipped free of its form. You do not need me to teach you anything.

Photo by Preston Pownell on Unsplash

We buried the tissue behind the old stump where the maple leaves fell. We put it on a yellow leaf and shoveled dirt over it with less ceremony than I have buried dead moles and birds and then we hugged each other. The bright leaves and the dirt were mixed together and by spring the grass will grow back in.

I wanted to show you the sunlight on the oak tree outside my window. The leaves are a rusty brown, but they burn in the light. I wanted to show you rainbows that go from violet to red to violet again and the vivid green moss on the bark of the Japanese maple. And the fish tank at the doctor’s office, which you would love for a while, until you felt the sad blankness of the fish. I would have showed you ravens cutting the river mist with their wings, the dew drops on the seed heads of the grass, raccoon prints with tiny thumbs in the silty mud. The neighbor’s tree is full of persimmons. An airplane tears across the sky, and I imagine your fascination. It will be a long time before you understand pollution and climate change, before knowledge jades your eyes.

But you have no eyes, little crescent, little tadpole, lentil, seed. You never grew ears to hear me telling you about these things. You may have had your daddy’s tendency towards cowlicks, but you did not grow hair so we will never know. Did your heart start beating? Your limbs bud? Or were you simply a tangle of tissue, cells dividing spastically?

I felt you, as a being, an essence. I have a good imagination, but that is what I felt. Now, I’m not special any more, not me with you inside me. I’m just tired.

Photo by Terry Richmond on Unsplash

Today, I took the dogs down to the river. The sun glowed in the flat gray sky as opaquely as a light bulb and its light made the water look like silver ore. The riverbanks were raw and ragged. Every year, the river changes, and the woods alongside the banks fill with log piles and silt. Death happens every day.

There’s more sex where that came from, says your daddy, and of course we’ll try again. Nothing is wrong; it is only sad. Nature believes in redundant abundance. More life means more death. I understand all of this and it does not bother me. I can think about it all medically, say words like normal, statistically, blighted ovum, chromosomal irregularities. But when I pretend I am not sad, my head throbs.

Yesterday, I lay on a nest of pillows and looked at the birch tree outside the window. It leans into the driveway and years ago I was supposed to cut it down. Now it is taller than the house and its leaves flutter golden in the rain. Each yellow leaf will fall.

A week has passed. The rusty leaves on the oak tree have mostly blown away. It’s harder to feel your beingness, to feel you as a you. It is raining. This morning a small woodpecker with a finch-red head was drilling in the bark of the birch tree. My head hurt as if for no reason and I spent all afternoon sleeping.

A faucet drips. The refrigerator rumbles. My bladder makes its demands. I’m alive in the precise and beautiful banality of the world, alive as I was before you. A little fatter, a little more tired. I’ve had life inside me, and death. There is a sadness and a kindness between us all now. All the possibilities that do not come to be.

Photo by Julian Böck on Unsplash

Feature Photo by Haley Photography on Unsplash

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About the Author

Becca Rose Hall lives near Seattle with her daughter and dog. She is the director of Frog Hollow School, a children’s writing program. She studied writing and environmental studies at Stanford University and the University of Montana. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Orion, Cutbank Online, Contrary Magazine, smokebox, High Country News, and inside Seattle’s buses. She recently finished a novel.


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