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My Last Beatitude

By Zoë Brigley

BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL, FOR THEY SHALL BE SHOWN MERCY.
-MATTHEW 5.7

Until I had children, no one told me
that not all of them survive, that some die
along the way. No one mentioned that the womb
teeters. They didn’t predict that I would sit each week
in a leather hospital chair: strapped to a fetal monitor, I
waited for the tiny roar of the baby’s heartbeat. The fetus
lay under a mountain, my body not the haven I hoped for,
but a betrayal pulsing oxygen down the measly umbilical. No
one knew that, during the birth, a shrill alarm would palpitate
while the doctor and nurses gathered. I wish I could say that
when you were born, I was glad, but at first, I felt only fear.
Your eyes narrowed, accused me as you howled. No one
said peace would happen this way: stealing on me, you
already long as we lay awake, knowing each other
so well. Nobody said how close a mother
and baby could be: as close
as teeth in the same
mouth.