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Same Blood

Houghton Mifflin

Ballantine Books
 February, 1990


Part One,
Chapter 1

Page 5

took from that afternoon all the way into the next mornin’ late and I’ll tell you all in one word how I felt—scared.

Now I knew what Tappen had told me after I asked him ’bout mares stretchin’ enough for a foal. He said you gotta rub cookin’ oil on the skin right around the hole. And after that you hold back the foal with both palms hard so he don’t rip through fast, and you watch for little white arrows shootin’ out from the hole. That’s where there ain’t no blood. Then you rub, rub the blood in and she won’t rip. You gotta be quick, he said. You gotta hold the foal back till the mare, she’s good and stretched. So early on when I was still thinkin’, I got myself a mirror and a stool Ma used to have around her kitchen and I took the green plastic off the table and put it on the floor by the bed, it just fit, and then I laid down and waited. The trailer seemed so narrow and dark. Beulah’d said to me—it was early on, I was six months maybe—she said, “Wait till you can’t stop yourself from pushin’, till you can’t hold back no more.”

That didn’t come till mornin’, after the water gushed out all over the blankets and I was so beat bein’ up all night with the pains I said to myself right out loud, “No way can I push this baby out.” I was gruntin’ like a pig. I finally did push hard enough to feel it come down and it hurt so bad I stood right up off the stool but I squat right down again quick ’cause it was like a hard ball but big as a grapefruit right between my legs, stuck. I just stayed there squattin’ and I counted like I used to count trucks when I was young sleepin’ on the porch. Then when I saw my lips swell up big, I knew it was close and I put my hand down there and tried to push against the head but it felt like my skin was on fire and I wanted him out, I couldn’t stop to rub or think to rub, I just ’bout caught him he was so slippery. But there was only small tears, I guessed later, ’cause I stopped bleedin’ pretty quick.

He was blue and I started suckin’ out the gunk from his mouth and nose. I didn’t even think to myself, Gee, it’s a boy! I just kept spittin’ the gunk onto the plastic which I can still see like it was yesterday ’cause I remember thinkin’ as I spit how the plastic was all bunched up, olive

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