by Alison Stine
Afterward, the world was divided into women:
women who’d given birth, and women who hadn’t.
It was like I was part of a secret club. Pain
was our password. Those who hadn’t—what did they
know of death? What had I? They were like
perpetual teenagers, or time travelers who’d gotten
stuck. Thin, shellacked, they would never grow old.
Afterward, my body, unscathed from pregnancy
except for the brown line bisecting my belly in two,
begin to hollow out. It turned out he needed
everything: my hips, my thighs, the back of my arms,
my last name. I gave willingly. And that was the secret—
to give willingly and without words, only shh, shh,
baby, shh. And this was the burden my mother had in giving
birth to a girl: one day I would do what she had done.
Musical Contribution: “Gazebo Tree”
In Their Own Words
“This song is a cover of “Gazebo Tree” written by one of my favorites, Kristin Hersh. I used to play it a lot when I lived in Gettysburg, PA in the servant quarters of a very big and very haunted Civil War-era house. My piano was in the attic, and I used to leave the windows open and play all night. But the song is most special to me because I was playing it in the corner of a hotel when I met my husband; he heard me singing and came to see.”
Alison Stine’s new book is WAIT, winner of the Brittingham Prize (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011). She is also the author of OHIO VIOLENCE, winner of the Vassar Miller (University of North Texas Press, 2009). She has written musicals and plays that have been performed on such stages as the International Thespian Festival, La Habra Depot Theatre, and the Cleveland Playhouse.