A metal tray clattered to the floor. The doctor wore running shorts, he moved too fast, pushed too hard, broke my negligible nose bone. Brand new blood ran down the blue length of his arm. I was pulp-faced with a bent-over ear, a pugilist almost down, fists up for mercy. The effort of freeing is brutal. Our gore and cord connecting us, to life support, each other. “Oh look! A cauliflower ear!” cried Grammie Lorraine, her hands flashing with a camera. The photographs from that day like forensic evidence, with rounded 70’s corners. Crime scenes of feet and a flailing limb. The calm bloom of a minted mother can be seen, in the background, almost out of frame meeting me.
After, she slept under the eaves of a blue spruce. The boughs of the tree kept the bugs out and the cool night in. She washed up, pits and ass, in the bathroom of a tavern. She wedged her head under the hand sink. She twined her hair in ringlets around her fingers and settled them on her shoulders. Her left heel had a hole in it, but it was high-summer so she didn’t care. Under the spruce boughs she dreamed the baby was carried off by a pack of wolves. Drops of brown blood and an empty shoe left in a house with shotgun stacks of rooms that she had to run through to find me. When she woke I had always been gone for a while.
A.M. O'Malley's writing has recently appeared in The Burnside Review, New Moon Magazine (a children's magazine) and is forthcoming in The Portland Review. She lives in Portland, Oregon and works at the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She also teaches writing and book arts at Portland Community College and at the Columbia River Correctional Institution.