there’s a history on my mother’s side of naming daughters Rose.
variants run through the family tree:
RosaLee, Rosalia Anna, Anna Rosalia, Carolyn Rose.
other names attach themselves to my family tree, like aphids to houseplants.
names like clonidine escitalopram buproprion duloxetine melatonin alprazolam buspirone fluoxetine methylphenidate risperidone.
words like postpartum and electroconvulsive and inpatient and outpatient and self-medication and suicidal ideation and discovered heavily intoxicated and why did she do it and left this world too soon.
flesh of my flesh, you need to know this.
you need to know that darkness and frailty wade through our blood to coagulate at the next birth. again and again.
our blood. my blood. the blood I will give you.
you need to know
that if I could, in a heartbeat
I would take the dose of this thing in our blood meant for you.
a double dose, or triple, or quadruple.
I would sit in the pangs of your coming and I would tell the doctors
let my child come, but leave those genes behind.
let them stay inside me, a double dose while you emerge untainted.
I would tell them,
let my child have my family’s hospitality. our honesty and gregariousness and love of family and land.
but spare her this. keep this as far away from him as the womb after birth.
I would run all of me through a filter before nursing you.
I would wear a mask before kissing your forehead.
I would put on gloves every time I held you.
I have been told that when a loved one dies
the worst part is not the shock, or the blood,
or how grief colors all the places your hands touch.
The worst part is when the world heals you too well.
Years later, when you begin to forget their face
and their voice becomes a song
you do not remember the tune for.
After the burial, when the body just a fact.
A memory only confronted when prepared.
I do not have this problem of forgetting.
I remember your face exactly. Your voice is right here,
coloring my voice. Nothing is helping me
to forget your hands,
how they shook like apologizing mountains
hollowed in their wisdom.
I do not know about the part
where you cannot remember grief.
Grief comes for me every morning,
dragging your last breaths behind him
like screaming children.
This aphorism seems a privilege
of bad memory. The brain does this.
It hides the worst. It is the reason we look at scars
and say All I remember was the screaming.
Then everything went black. When I woke up
the worst of it was over.