In The Distant Past


Found this morning on Writer’s Almanac. Men– if we’re completely honest–are envious of women, as a group, in some rather superficial ways, but particularly in the birthing abilities she talks about–that we will never have. It is a power that is beyond us. We know it. And you know we know it. And we know you know we know it. 

by Carrie Fountain

Things weren’t very specific
when I was in labor,

yet everything was
there, suddenly: all that

my body had known,
even things I’d only been

reminded of occasionally,
as when a stranger’s scent

had reminded me
of someone I’d known

in the distant past. The few
men I’d loved but didn’t

marry. The time, living
alone in Albuquerque,

when I fainted in the kitchen
one morning before work

and woke up on the floor,
covered in coffee. Finally.

it was coming. It was all moving
forward. Finally, it was all going

to pass through me. It was
beginning to happen

and it was all going to happen
in one single night.

No more lingering
in the adolescent pools

of memory, no more giving it
a little more time to see

if things would get better
or worse. No more moving

from one place to the next.
Finally, my body was all

that had ever been given
to me, it was all I had,

and I sweated through it
in layers, so that when,

in the end, I was finally
standing outside myself

and watching, I could see
that what brought me

into the world was pulling
you into the world,

and I could see that my body
was giving you up

and giving you to me,
and where in my body

there were talents, there
were talents, and where

there were no talents,
there would be scars.
“In the Distant Past” by Carrie Fountain, from Instant Winner. © Penguin, 2014. (buy now)

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