Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Third Month

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Lucknow, India

Forgetting -- like nausea -- is a matter of
and walking
into this new remembering strangles narration
and its
false beginnings.
What should be a thing of insides and interiors,
hanging drapes and gluing paper in a new room
where secrets can be told in the glow of sunlight through velvet curtains

feels more like
a demolition of
walls and windows
into crumbling bricks and glass.

I am onions and spices the
tang of men's urine spritzed casually on building sides,
a dizziness grander than these narrow, faulty walls of skin.
Like those snow-bound Eskimos,
I am a dictionary of the thousand words for smoke,
a story about other people's joys and sadness.
I am an Indian city on the plains in summer,
a great invisible oven with shiny knobs and dials --
tubes and corridors of shivering heat under a sun meant for no woman,
Bake me and I shrink,
in rain
I will swell,
I am the clay miniature toasting into readiness
which the town has become.

Instead of one-two-ness I become an infinity of things not even human
In this way the world decimates me
and collects and collides and merges in my bloody depths.
In this way the world becomes human.

I had read that in the highlands of a certain island
a child is not made by connecting it to a world of named others,
but by separating it, stretching it away
from all and all and all that is.
But I wonder now if before the child can be
made not to merge with the slippery world
the world must coagulate,
all that is sticky and moist and
sharp and sugary and soft and loud and persistent
must first crash through the well-maintained boundaries of
someone already made.

This is what it feels like
from the heart of a barrage of everything.

And what should smell of time
and the sweeter side of impermanence
is a vertigo of stopped seconds.
My amazement stands ready for use
like a regiment tired of weekend drills.

Sarah Pinto is the mother of a two-year-old girl and is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She earned her PhD in anthropology at Princeton University in 2003. Her dissertation on childbearing, infant death, and rural development in northern India received the Sardar Patel Award in 2004. She is currently conducting research on post-partum depression. Her essays and articles on topics related to motherhood, birth, and traditional midwifery have been published in journals and collections in the US and India.

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