The morning a doctor cut into the soft white flesh of my belly while I slept, the world was awake with hurt. Surgeons moving past my uterus–cocoon where my babies once grew their wings. The small ovaries like little glittering potatoes hidden beneath the surface. Fallopian tubes so small but a mountain ridge my brave babies once traveled. And a cyst, large and lolling. An unwelcome guest. The doctors cut it away, and like that, the part of my body that hurt me was no longer there.
I woke up sobbing for no reason in the recovery room and begged the doctor to hold my hand at the side of the bed with his gloved hand.
Later, sitting with the pain, I thought of dusk when my children held their fishing poles out into the lake, garlic cheese on a hook in the green, mossy water. Visible trout darting into the deep dark then rising on the glinting surface with with surprising ripples. How badly they wanted a fish, but maybe not the fish so much as the moment when the fish pulls with all its fish bones and fish muscles to get away, jolting us into remembrance of how much we love these bodies we’re given, how we’d struggle against everything to keep them.
The news flashed in a corner of my hospital room. I touched the cuts on my stomach and mourned bodies who died too soon and without reason, their families crying out on the screen.