You lay against me, body to chest, and I feel your digestion in my ribs. Eyelids stretch over rolling dreams. Do you see where you’ve been? Or where you’ll go?
To think I almost never had you. But how could I not when my body craved the making of you? My breasts aching for fullness, my belly longing to swell – all of me hungry to contain you.
I refused to send out for you like others do their offspring. I could not key in the traits I desired – I could not choose from an index of height and shade, degree of talent and similarity seeded into gestation bundles. The doctors laughed at my requests, but I could not let others between you and me. In whispers, I found the midwife, rock-ancient, on this backwater planet where food still grows from soil, tilled by fertile men.
The midwife told me I couldn’t return you – not like the machine-made. I’d have to keep you, always. She said my body would morph, become all about you, and that there would be surprises: I would vomit and ache, crave and shriek. She gave me books to read, real solid pages brittle with thirst.
Then you came and fifteen whole hours swallowed nine meager months. You – caught between the din of my heartbeat and the midwife calling your name. So brave, breathing alien air on your own. Wide eyes not-quite-seeing the clay floor swept clean, a tired old woman with a grin-riven face, and me, hair sticking to my neck and cheeks. Me, still umbilically linked, reaching for you.
The midwife pressed you to my chest so my skin might nourish yours. My eyes laced to your velvet head. I counted fingers ten and small. Your feet paddled as they did when you swam within me. You drank and something within me collapsed. I pushed, spilling afterbirth.
For two years, we will hide on this planet waiting until you grow machine-made sized. Waiting until the stigma slips into secret. When we go, will you dream of the unbroken sky? One day when you discover you are woman-born, what will you see when you look at me?