Her life began in a beige and green grass field. A headfirst tumble into existence. A soft thud as the earth accepted the weight of her. A soft sound from my mouth as the wait for her ended. Then silence.
Nine months of carrying life in my swollen stomach lead to this moment: her, a tangle of dark limbs in the grass; me, a tangle of every emotion beneath the summer sky. What more was there to do? What was there to say? Me, just standing. Me, a deer in headlights. Warm sun above. Big dark eyes below. A baby. Sunshine.
I wanted to apologize. Wanted to kneel down and tell her how sorry I was. I’m sorry that you exist. I had no choice. But she didn’t speak the language that lied like thick milk on my tongue. She spoke only the language that exists between mother and child. The language of milk and mouth. A hungry cry. A clumsy attempt to nurse. Me still sorry, but trying to give her what I could.
I was one of the lucky ones, they said. Some aren’t so lucky. Some don’t even get to see the baby.They put her head in a cage, I heard. Kept her eyes straight ahead. I heard the baby was born male. Poor mother, poor baby. Up the road, they tie their necks to posts. That’s a little better, I guess. Do you think you’ll get to see your baby?
I spent days watching the sun rise and fall. Waiting. Waiting for them to take her. But soon she was walking. Soon the leaves were changing and crunching beneath her clumsy steps. We walked together along the fence, stopping here and there to watch the horses through the slats. She tried to talk to them sometimes like I did when I was young.
In the Spring of one exceptionally wet year in my youth, I watched a boy race around on a great white horse. It had been raining that morning, and I could feel the slickness of the earth beneath my own body. So it was no surprise when the horse crashed onto its side, taking the boy with it. Both let out primal screams. A gray-haired man scooped the child up in his arms. The horse, however, stayed there on its side for two days, grunting. Then, on that second day, the man came out into the field again. I watched him watch the creature. Run his long fingers over its snout. Pull something shiny from his waist. Watched the way it fit against his skin like an extension of the human hand. Boom. A sound like a quick bolt of lightning striking a tree. A soft echo. Silence.
I told her this, my baby, so she would know of both acts of kindness and of cruelty and how sometimes they had to overlap. I loved her, despite not wanting to. I loved her, and that’s why I did what I did. The night they pierced her ear, I knew that time was running out. I knew her future was approaching, the one I had lived, the one my mother had lived, one of chronic pregnancy and pain and babies being taken from you just to live in the same purgatory. Until death. And so I fell asleep on top of her.
Her life ended in a beige and green grass field, and I was alone again. Soon, I was growing another inside of me. I felt so empty for such a swollen creature. The spring was cold and wet, and I missed the feeling of sunshine upon my skin, of the warmth of a baby next to me. But I didn’t wish to feel it again.
I wished that a wolf had found us that day in the field. Wished that he would have torn her throat out. Because a wolf knows no cruelty, just survival. Humans are worse. I hope that they tie my neck to a post when I give birth to the life growing inside of me now. It would be an act of kindness. I can’t raise another and feel what I feel now. And they can’t even see my sorrow, hear my cries. All because I have four legs and hooves. Because I was born a cow. Because my baby was, too.
I Bare My Teeth
by Liza Rose
I am fighting to feel, fighting to not feel as much.
I long to be a house cat content in watching birds through a dusty window; content in finding a patch of sunlight whose heat I can curl up in; content in sinking my claws into carpeting, yawning, flicking my tail, stretching my back to the crescent moon.
I long to be a house cat. I long to be content.
But I am not.
I amfighting to feel, fighting to not feel as much.
I am an animal blessed with intelligence, cursed with intelligence. blessed with emotion. cursed with awareness.
My self defense lies not in claws or jaws but in pretending.
And so I bare my teeth in the form of a smile and pretend to be content.
Liza Rose is a student at The Pennsylvania State University studying English. We can find her work in the poetry anthologies “War Crimes Against the Uterus” by Wide Eyes Publishing, and “Foraging” by Globalage Poetry.
She enjoys tennis, coffee, horror films, poetry, and everything else that makes her feel utterly alive. Connect with her on Instagram @Lizarosepoetry & @Liza.lies.alot!