Not Staying In, Not Going Out by Margaret A. Robinson
Due to rain and Claude’s touch of the flu, we have spent
the whole day wombed in our house. The planet turns,
the sun sinks early. Drops spatter on skylights and roof.
Last night in Manchester, England – a time zone five hours
ahead – our niece, after IVF, expelled a “yolk attachment.”
In the afternoon, she bled. By midnight, forty minutes of
vomiting - she felt faint, her husband held her head. When
the heaving stopped, they took a hot shower. Something
depended. She reached, pulled out life’s apparatus. Tissue
and blood filled her hand, a two-month pregnancy lacking
a heartbeat. Her husband had thought it would look small,
like a scrap of raw liver. Oh my God, oh my God, he said.
They went to bed, rose to walk in the final hour of daylight.
Did I mention Manchester’s latitude, on Labrador’s stripe,
how short the days, how long the nights? Our niece is feeling
much better, thanks, but sad - both of them sad but all right -
the rest of the family heavy with loss. Though not hugely
sick, Claude stayed in pajamas. Thanksgiving had passed,
we ate turkey bone soup and counted our blessings. Plants
to water, the Sunday paper. From a catalogue, we chose
holiday gifts. On TV, pandas ate bamboo. Three priests
sang “Ave Maria.” Now, Claude is upstairs asleep. Soon,
a new month starts. People are shot in Mumbai, pirates take
hostages, soldiers die in Iraq. You don’t need another sad
story, but I can’t stop writing this down. On November’s last
night, 2008, an imperfect stranger was lost. Rain pelted all day.
A childless couple huddled on a couch. They did not go out.
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