Published on April 25th, 2023 | by Jajah Wu


A Quick Word on Poop

“An’ if tha shits an’ if tha pisses, I’m glad. I don’t want a woman as couldna shit nor piss.” — Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence

There are whole industries that make bank out of shaming women for being human, for shitting, for pissing, for getting their periods, for having hair on their bodies, for having the wrong labia, for the very space they inhabit by inhabiting a body. In grade school, I had a friend tell me confidently that her mother did not fart. Like how some people can’t curl their tongues or lift an eyebrow. Her mother encouraged this sort of thinking. She was a woman as couldna shit nor piss. A sadness, I think, for a family can have no trust between them if farts go unacknowledged, as if they were a sin, and not a common occurrence, a chance for easy hilarity, a memento mori, and a carpe diem in one.

It is with our bodies that we understand we will die, as sure as we understand we are alive. Our bones are imbued with such wisdom, and our flesh, too, each cell working in silent ferocity, dividing until the end, when all goes to ground again.

Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

I gave birth not long ago. I labored from the stroke of midnight through every dismal hour until morning came and went: an enchanted, horrible time. With each contraction, blood and amniotic fluid ran between my legs, kneeling or standing, keening through the witching hours, nothing but an animal body curling and uncurling against a tide so inevitable it must be as unending as gravity, unknowable as the universe. When it finally came time to push, it was a relief. The nurses flooded into my room and set up a mirror so I could see myself in that awkward position, legs flung open, posterior dangling.

And Mr. Lawrence came back to me through the haze, as I watched, strung between horror and hilarity, the dark shape of my baby’s head, nuzzling into view, along with the shit that accompanied the first pushes, unbidden and tactless, dexterously sponged away by the nurse. I shrug, and Mr. Lawrence shrugs: if tha shits and pisses, I’m glad.

I pushed so hard my anus was flowered into near prolapse, so hard that the baby, with his enormity of a crown was born through and out of me. And gladly, I gave up the space within me.

I saw him, laid crosswise on me, luminous huge eyes shocked at this world: a huge baby, an enormous little person, a scant universe. We were told to monitor his diaper for meconium, a dark substance that contained the waste of 9 months, defecated over the course of a few days in a tar-like spill, after which his little body would start expelling yellow watery poop, upwards of nine times a day! It was good to see those first shits. It meant he was surviving, alive.

So guided by instinct, he grows, day by day, sometimes too quickly, sometimes far too slowly, but ever propelled through the world by blood and piss and shit. Now, some weeks in, he still amazes himself with the sound of his own farts, so sonorous and mature. At times, he will weep when they shake through his little body. But, when he has finished his business, a sly, sideways smile creeps over his face, along with a little hic of pleasure. One day, I think, when he is older, I will present my outstretched finger to his wondering hand, and the old joke will be born anew.

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About the Author

Jajah Wu lives in the woods outside Seattle, Washington, but hails from Chicago, by way of Oklahoma, by way of Shanghai. She is a mother and a children’s rights lawyer, a singer and a violinist. For some reason, she writes novels in her spare time.

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