A Baby Is Born

By PRIYANKA VORUGANTI

 

Mean-faced

and green,

 

it decides that it would like to die.

 

Birthing is reckless. Spitting out flesh and hair and tears and shit and puke is inconsiderate. Now trapped, looped, lost, wandering in samsara and Mother, it’s your fault. Your fault moksha forsakes us, your fault for having a baby that you can’t bear to look at. Your fault when Father pinches you under the hospital gown.

 

Spiritual debts are heavy. It didn’t ask

to live a life of retribution,

 

on its knees, incantations the very first words it choked on-

 

Mother holds tight, but nothing will ever be as good as it was in the womb. She grieves for the scarcity of womb-like places in the world. Even her sweaty palms can’t make such a convincing promise. It wails. Reeking of desperation, suckling on it’s own breast,

 

it learned like this, the hard way. 

Gnawing on skin until the thirst was quenched:

 

Blood. For some reason, it will never feel American enough. 

 

Scripture saws its way into the baby’s back. ‘Absolute reality’ always too far to grasp (Brahman runs fast). And after some time, the guilt flourishes. Like a baby grows, it widens. Onto it’s smile, carving a frown, into its genitals, writing sex with men will always be disappointing. Worrying too much. Worrying about worrying too much.

 

It saw the harsh fluorescence of hospital lights

and knew that poetry would never be enough. 

 

Elegy is a sin because it’s selfish. Guilt in Sanskrit is called a dosa and as a child, it was always your favorite food. Bad baby.

 

Mother grieves the birth of her daughter. She cries,

 

it cries, 

Oh honey / I know, I know / Oh shh, Oh shh

 

A girl.