Saturday 26 June 2021

'Cow' by Natalie Warther

I give birth to a cow. “You’re not the first,” says the nurse. Other women had given birth to a whole number of things–– paper weights, engine parts, dutch ovens, and once, a potted plant that came out dead in a trail of soil and fluid. When they cut the cord it was brown like a root.

“This is our cow,” we say to guests, as proudly as we can. “This is our cow,” we whisper to each other in bed, when we are unsure and nervous about being the parents of a cow.

We could leave her in a field with other cows, in the middle of the night, no one would know, she would blend in with the other cows, we could leave her in a field of cows.

“That’s not a child, that’s a cow,” other children say. “You’re right,” we say, because they are.

Parenthood is hard like a little black stone pressed into our palms. One day the stone was not there, and then it was, and we could not put down the stone.

We fill her crib with grass, like a manger. She lays down and stands up and kicks my husband once but never does she ever kick me.

We join a support group. A woman who’d given birth to an iron rocks the thing and pats what would be its bum. “What’s the hardest part?” they ask us, and we say, “It’s like we don’t even know our own...”

“This is our cow,” we say in the car. “This is our cow,” we say in the shower. “This is our cow, this is our cow, this is our cow,” we say it until we believe it, until she believes it, until she knows she is loved, the cow is loved, she is.

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