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From Where My Mother Sat
By Meredith W.
age: 17
Massachusetts

I remember your face.
You were bathing me when I askedó
I must have been three.
It was a simple request:
a younger sister
to play with like a doll,
or a brother to teach grass-stains and dirty palms.
You recoiled at the words,
continued washing my grimy skin
and letting suds drain down my back.

You explained in-vitro fertilization,
test tubes, doctors,
eighteen years waiting for a child.
You pointed to your gray hair and told me
you were older than other mothers.
I couldn't wrap my hands around the explanations
of reproductive medicine
as you scrubbed that morning's jelly
from underneath my fingertips.
I kept asking.
How could giving me a little brother or sister
be as difficult as you claimed?
Diana had one, and her mom's stomach
ballooned with another.
Eventually you broke.
A single droplet tracked its way across your face
like a soap sud winding
over my skin.

Fourteen years later,
I would stumble on the Guinness Book.
First Test-Tube Baby in the United States:
Elizabeth Jordan Carr.
You knew her mother from the reception area
where you both spent so many hours,
waiting, waiting, waiting.
And I could finally handle that moment,
a speck of memory:
you describing in-vitro and Petri dishes
and a three year old letting the explanations
slide away.

 

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