Cleaving

by Jennifer Givhan

My mom tells my dad she wishes she’d never married him, never had his children, who inherited his depression. She’s tired of being around sadness. Melancholia. A beautiful flower in another family tree. She’d wish me away for a happier heart. As if the chemicals misfiring in my brain could ever replace the tubules pumping—maddening, deafening, red, red, red—through my veins. The center of all things. Bodies who’ve come from bodies. Desiring such separateness. Such cleaving. My daughter will not leave my breast, at two-years-old still clings, clawing, attaching herself to me. My son asks if he can crawl back into me—a dwelling from which he never came. His birthmama’s blood I feel swirling inside me, balloon strings wrapping around me like limbs each time I twine my fingers through the curling vines atop my son’s head. So that when he wishes for otherness—for difference—for another way, I want to curl into him. Make myself small enough to fit there. In the depressions of his skin. The folds of his plaid shorts. The wide earth of his lips. And whisper—never. Never would I undo the knots.

 

NEXT: What the Water Did, Elegy for Danny…>

 

Jennifer Suzanne Givhan is the author of the poetry collection Red Sun Mother and the novel manuscript In The Time of Jubilee. She’s at work on a second novel and a second poetry collection. A National Latino Writers’ Conference scholarship recipient, she received a grant to attend the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College. She lives in Albuquerque with her husband, parents, and two young children.