by Marianne Chan
Lately, I’ve been compulsively checking
the size of my breasts. In my breasts, I believe
I’ll find some message, some sign from the beyond,
of motherhood. In the business of reproduction,
so much depends on the finding. The sperm
must find my egg, the egg must find my uterus.
I don’t know how to visualize these things
happening. Internal organs: What are they doing?
I think of them the same way I think of outer space:
as something I will never see or touch, so only
exists in theory. This is, perhaps, a lesson
in object permanence. It’s hard to fathom
how much is happening inside me, unseen.
When I was a child, I found a wedding picture
of my mom and dad. Not understanding people
existed before I was born I asked my mom,
But where was I? Without hesitation Mom pointed
at my father’s crotch tapping her red pointy
fingernail on the picture frame glass. I gasped,
surprised. She responded by laughing and laughing
like a villain in the movies, her mouth opening
wider and wider until I could see her palatine uvula
in her throat dangling like a church bell, ready
to be rung. How frightening. I thought of myself
in my father’s testicles, small and lonely
in that genital darkness. How many other selves
were in there too? These were my early thoughts
on reproduction. Now, I wonder why my mother
gave my father all the credit; she knew something
I didn’t know: what happens to a woman’s body
when it is split in two, how it feels to double,
multiply. Now I’m reading the tea leaves of my tits,
*asking them, Is there someone inside my uterus stewing
in my body’s thick broth? I read somewhere that breasts
only reach their full potential when they’re able
to feed someone. Until then, they are merely
decorative, two floral centerpieces on an olivewood
table. The navel is also ornamental, a retired bodily
feature, like the rotary telephone niche in our kitchen
wall. It’s not that I wish to compare my body
to objects. I just think: how strange, I spent most
of my youth avoiding being objectified, only to learn
my body achieves actualization when I’m human
food for my young, an object, milk produced
from my own fat supply, ready for consumption,
my tits, their first ever cup. Some days I think Take it.
Take it all. Other days I’m ambivalent about the taking.
If I have a child, will this body never return, never
be unbabied? My laughing mother never seemed
scarred by motherhood, but I couldn’t know her before
I was born, I couldn’t see the before and after. Take it all.
All of it, she said, offering me the food in her kitchen,
and then, the kitchen itself, the sink, the counters,
the white teacups with the blue flowers. Thinking
of my mother now, I imagine the baby floating inside me.
Oh, how I desire more of my mother, more of me.
At a party, I enter someone’s bedroom to check
my breasts again for signs of fertilization, implantation,
in front of the mirror. But my breasts simply hang there,
unspeaking, two cyclops twins with slight differences
in size, staring back, finding only my face
desperate for something to repeat itself.