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Same Blood

Houghton Mifflin

Ballantine Books
 February, 1990


Part One,
Chapter 1

Page 6

green, and the blood and mucus swirled so it looked like Elvis Presley’s shirt in the picture Sharon used to have in her room made of that crushed velvet. Sharon said that the shirt design was his face but it looked to me with them wrinkles in it like a sunrise or sump’n in space you can’t see but would be just spectacular if you could. Those three or four minutes I didn’t know if he was gonna breathe right, they was like slow motion, like I was surrounded in water, everything suspended like, and me thinkin’ dumb thoughts. I didn’t do nothin’, just laid there with my baby ’gainst me half sleepin’, never would nurse steady. It ain’t easy holdin’ a tit put in his mouth so it won’t fall out or smother him.

He was so little and I didn’t know how to feel for him, I had nothin’ to call him, no name. I remember Sharon’s kid Jimmy, about two years old first time he say “hand” and gittin’ so excited he’s sayin’ it and holdin’ up his hand each time like it was a new hand now he knew the name. I felt all unfinished, almost like I still didn’t have a baby ’cause I didn’t have a name for him. But now I see I was so sunk in love with him, I couldn’t even feel it. Like you don’t feel water till you move your hand and splash or come out. He was still me then and you don’t go pokin’ at yourself all full of mush.

Then outa the blue Beulah walks right through the door into the bedroom wearin’ her kitchen apron. She had a hunch, she said. I wanted to hug her and cry and have her lay right there beside me but we ain’t like that together so she started cleanin’ up the sheets till she sees the placenta layin’ there like a huge hunk of liver. I never even knew it come out, the cord all white and blue goin’ up to the baby. Beulah went out huntin’ for sump’n to cut it with and I didn’t even yell after her, tellin’ her where to look. She was there now and I felt it swallow me up what you go into when you collapse.

When I woke up all the sheets and plastic was up and Beulah was there wipin’ the blood and white stuff off the baby with the pink washcloth I had swiped from her about a week before. I felt like I’d slept days though it wasn’t much. Beulah was holdin’ the little baby in her arms all wrapped

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