1 surging swimmer fusing
1 large egg dividing
Big Book of Baby Names, Edition 4, 1993
1. Preheat lower third to 98°F. Set timer for 7-10 months.
2. Fold into your stomach—tart grapefruit, rich black beans, deep green spinach—until your body thickens.
3. Pare away the lull of 8:00 A.M. black coffee.
4. After four months, extract a teaspoon of gooey batter, check her chromosomes aren’t bloating to burst.
5. Roll names around the counter. Amy will melt into sticky Emily, into creamy Elizabeth. Knead until the sounds soften.
6. After seven and a half months, use a shiny scalpel to carve toward her. Remove her; she will be 6 pounds, heavy as a piggy bank bursting with a new Barbie fund; she will be yellow as lemon chiffon.
7. Her insides will still be raw. Transfer to an incubator, an angled white beast, blotched in buttons and snaking wires—remove after six days or when she is golden brown.
8. Meanwhile, leave yourself to set beneath bleached cotton sheets. When the nurse comes in, her plastic nametag shimmering, and says it’s time to feed the baby, tell her you are too weak. Her eyebrow will turn to caterpillars bending to say you will not be a good mother. Allow it to cool.
**Optional—Whisk the nurse’s expression around your head until the day you pass your daughter the foamy old countenance. She will baste you in sticky reassurance.
9. Remove from the incubator; pour her into a stiff cast the beige of buttercream. Her joints still need time to set.
10. She will stiffen, set, burst with life. One day she will stop breathing, she will turn frosting-blue—tongue–stain blue. Sit with her in the ambulance. Simmer in the sound of sirens.
11. Whisper to her; glaze her in words she hasn’t learned, like need, mother, breathe. Set this moment away, to chill until it’s an easy knowing to swallow.
12. Scrape the blue from her cheeks, peel toward pink flushed health. The air will stir through her lungs again.
13. Melt into the moment you can sit and watch her stand. She will step and step and step.