In an effort to teach him how to love her properly she’d expose his wound at least twice a day. Run a clean hand gently across it. Take sterile water – water she’d boiled and let cool on the same stove she made dinner on every night. She’d take that water and pour it down the wound. Always down. So that any infection would be wicked away – from the heart, past his man-parts, down toward his lower extremities. Each stitch soaked in sterility then dried with a clean cloth. White. Always white. Old folks (from the country) know the dangers of dye on a healing wound. He would wince when she scraped the pus. And she would lift her head to reassure him that this pain was for his own good. Then back to the wound she went. Placing a special concoction of cloves and turmeric and aloe flesh and raw honey from top to bottom. You could smell him from the front door. He had become one with a gummy, saccharine healing that burned. His boys (my uncles) will tell you, “daddy still smells of sweet sticky earth and the insides of my mamma’s cabinets”. Such a substantial contusion – from the top of his groin allllllll the way up past his navel, just below his sternum. She hadn’t killed him; she hadn’t meant to. What she had meant to do was make him ooze from his guts. From that place where everyone’s intuition lives. That place that tells us love this one, head further north and don’t stop ’til you see home…’til you see safe…’til you see free…’til you see love. Head north – like from guts to heart to head. Head. North. ‘Til you see your own front door. She’d made earth in her own belly and let sun shine into a dark place; watered the soil with her own tears and grew eight boys and one girl for him. They were all born breathing. What the world did to the two who died could never be traced back to her womb. Was it wrong for her to want to see what grew in his belly? To want to see how his offering compared to hers? A woman’s love is so literal – so see-able. It grows legs and a beating heart. It walks the earth but never before pulling up. Not before crawling. She just wanted to help him along. Like a classical c-section incision. Wanted to see what he could give birth to. But there was only blood, and wood paired with sharp steel and a scream and a… “are you fucking crazy?!”. Maybe she was crazy. Crazy is as crazy does. And crazy stays even when your husband is making like with the babysitter. Crazy is all that’s left when you’ve given your skin and hair follicles to dryness. Crazy brews and runs over when your biggest boy asks, “mamma, can I have the big piece of chicken tonight? You know daddy ain’t coming home” and you let the bird go cold in empty anticipation.
It’s crazy funny…slap-of-the-knee funny (but not really) when you come from women who gut men like fish, then stay to mend their wounds.