I woke thinking of Susan Sontag in the photo after her mastectomy. I woke thinking of mercy. After 9/11, I became obsessed with having a child. I picked names, and imagined conversations and parenting techniques. I planned vacations. It wasn’t a family I saw, I saw myself with a child, the two of us. From my grief, I wanted love. I wanted beauty and goodness. I wanted a baby.
I suspected I was pregnant at the Kennedy School House in Portland. I woke in the night and paced the room, looking out at the courtyard and wondering if it could be true. This broken body carrying a child? Could I? Had the doctors been mistaken?
My son was 14 months old when my ex and I separated. I’d never seen a family. I told you. But I’d try to puzzle one anyhow. For years afterward the girls would ask for another child and I would have such a peculiar grief.
I dream of her now. An unnamed girl child. I dream her and even now, at 36, I would carry her. I woke thinking of Susan Sontag. Of her frailty there at the end. Of the ache of breasts and grief and desire. I want Mary’s child. Our child. I want another round without the fear or the selfishness or the grief. To see family from the beginning. To have a partner who partners. To remember why my body is so tender.