The Dis(re)membering

by Maren Loveland

I shouldn’t tell you this,
but last night when the moon looked like a half-whisper, slick and tender as a frog’s eye, 
my womb felt thick with the heaviness of an ancient pearl, 
bursting with being, 
and we went down to see my brother in a hospital at The End of The World, and the evening smelt like smoke drifting away from freshly lit fireworks—ephemeral, chemical, burning.

I had the baby, but didn’t witness the birth because they filled my lungs with brain-numbing, throat-soothing ambrosia. Meanwhile, they filmed the delivery, the apotheosis, and gave me its recording on a VHS tape so I could watch it over and over again—the screams and blood and silky afterbirth suspended in a low-resolution loop, an AUG 29 timestamp watching it all from the left-hand corner.

On the hospital’s fourth floor, where they performed amputations, I saw the severed legs and arms laid out like freshly picked tulips on glistening metal tables and hid under them with a scalpel in one hand and an infant in the other.

I shouldn’t tell you this, 
but my mouth started watering, 
and my heart felt as bitter and cruel as a dog mother with lips turned inwards, teeth bare and flashing—like my mother, who kicks down doors with steel-tipped boots.

I shouldn’t tell you this, 
but I will, after you’ve pulled the cotton clouds from my eyes and told me to look out the window at the stale snow, vulnerable and quiet, like the underbelly of a mourning dove. “Let’s watch the birth today,” I’ll murmur. “Let’s watch me come alive, again.”

About the Author

Maren Loveland is a dual PhD student in English and Comparative Media Analysis and Practice at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on the interdisciplinary environmental and energy humanities of the United States, with a particular emphasis on the aesthetics and (necro)politics of water, cinema, and infrastructure. She is a 2021-2022 Mellon Graduate Student Fellow in Digital Humanities. Her work is published or forthcoming in Resilience and American Literature, Dream Pop Press, Dialogue, The Maine Review, Sidereal Magazine, and elsewhere.