The maternity ward. Alliance City Hospital. Alliance, Ohio. July 3, 1941. A new mother, twenty-five years old, stares out the window.
Is she remembering her lascivious grandfather, the rape, the termination ten years earlier. Is she picturing a small, windowless room, a man in a white coat, the mass of tissue he dangled in front of her face like a warning. Does she believe the sins of the father are visited upon the son and she will pay a penance for her grandfather’s perfidy. Is she worried because the nurse hasn’t brought the infant to her. Was it a difficult labor, a long labor. Was she sedated before the baby was born, a mask clamped over her face. Is she afraid her newborn is not normal, that she will be punished with a blemished child. Will she undo my pink receiving blanket and will she untie the ribbon holding the white plisse kimono and will she remove the safety pins closing the cloth diaper and will she bare my body and find a flaw, a deformity. Will she call for the doctor, show him the stigma, ask him what it means. Will the doctor reassure her, it’s only a missing toenail, nothing to worry about, or, not knowing her deep concern, will he laugh at her silliness.
Questions for my mother that I never asked.
Susan Knox's book, Financial Basics: A Money Management Guide for Students, was published by the Ohio State University Press in 2004. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in CALYX, Monkey Puzzle, Pisgah Review, and Sunday Ink.