In the Family

by Haven Gomez
It was then, too, that I learned
miscarriages ran in our family. 
Seven, my grandma told me.
She undid her shirt’s bottom button.
But this is your mom’s first.
First, she told me, like preparation, 
like a fortune, like there’d be more.
My mother held me, a child’s 
creature comfort because she
was a child, barely of age to drink
and I was already six. 
Fun Fact: My mom found out I existed with the help of a dream book: “Your baby will be prosperous,” it read. “Your baby will be healthy.” 
They told me once, while I was 
coloring outside the lines,
that my mom was almost
my sister, my grandma my mother.
They asked if I was okay knowing.
My mom kept things of mine:
colored paper I’d only written “Ham” on,
the closest I ever got to my name at four,
my baby teeth in a little plastic
treasure chest, my Christmas Eve 
ornaments, my umbilical cord. 
She couldn’t keep anything 
of her next. You can’t keep 
a thing not three months formed. 
She told me that before she found out she was pregnant with me I made her throw-up at the smell of cigarettes. Don’t remind her about when she even smelled alcohol. God, Haven, she held her cheek to my stomach, you made me hate everything bad. You made me better. She whispered into my shirt, I didn’t even take the pain meds when I had you.

This poem first appeared in Voices.

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