|What to Do With The Babies
I could sense the moon behind the dense curtains. I knew I had no breast and the moon was not mine. I wanted to understand my babies and the moon was not my breast. The babies were fish with gills like wings. They were moving in circles.
Daddy returned with a butterfly net. I was afraid he'd bruise the babies, he with his voice like bagpipes, eyes urgent bees, looking at me as if I had a breast. Be gentle, Daddy, I spoke gradually in a voice that felt far away like a fish sleeping on the bottom of a deep pond. I lay on my bed, exhaling fast, a fish in shallow water. He saw that when he turned the flashlight on my face. I was afraid I'd scream like five saxophones so I didn't. His bee eyes stung, but I asked again: what should we do with the babies? Daddy usually liked me when I asked him questions. This time he realized I knew he had no answers.
He held the net like a baseball bat, swung the net and swooped. He caught my face so I could barely gasp, he caught my face and the babies circled faster and faster around the black globe on the ceiling, pleading: at least light if not breast. I whispered, wait! Daddy whispered, baby.
The babies are in the wash. Where else could I put them? Never mind you, now without teeth, memory all over the place, nothing to tell me. Just know I must feed the laboring men. They will come after they've herded the animals into barns, pens and stables; they will come stomping in boots like rocks and sit around this table here, tipsy from hunger, wanting moonshine, my breast, waiting to be fed.
It is not easy to know what to do with the babies when the laborers clamor for moonshine. What to do when the babies clamor. I watch the men with their ravenous bee eyes, faces hardened cement. They will lasso the babies if I don't keep watch. And they will devour them; into those bull mouths they will go. I pour moonshine into the wash to quiet the babies so the men won't hear their breathing. I ought to put them in a burlap bag says Daddy, put 'em in a bag and drown them in moonshine.
Daddy sat at the table with his head in his lap, hands over his ears. I thought I could hear him crying but maybe it was the moan of an arriving moon. It was hard to tell with all the babies screaming. What should I do with the babies? Daddy asked himself over and over again, as if nobody was in that room. Nobody was. Nobody was eating the white flesh of the potatoes, only the brown spots. Somebody always said those brown spots give you cancer. People say lots of things. If you listen to them you'll stay under the table with the dogs. Best to put your hands over your ears I say.
Mommy sat there, straight up, again with her belly full of tumor. She was praying to something merciful. I thought of taking a dart from Pin the Tail on the Donkey and bursting her belly. I always thought that way when her belly intruded and she prayed like that. Her belly filled her plate and I wanted to shake the tumor out of her. Poor Daddy with his skinny cows should've locked Mommy in the barn till her stomach was flat, should've sat on her to keep her that way. There wasn't enough of anything to feed all those babies. Mommy's breasts were hollow inside like Halloween gourds and the chickens were spitting blood from the rain. All year the sky had spilled bad weather and more was coming. Everyone knew the icebergs were collapsing into the seas and. the seas would take the land with all the babies. Surely Mommy knew. The chickens poked their obscene red beaks through the cracks in the windows, wanting radiators. They screamed with the babies. Too much noise. That's the night I decided to open the trap door and live in the fallout shelter.