Madre Paradójica

Orphan: from Late Latin orphanus, from Ancient Greek ὀρφανός (orphanós, “without parents, fatherless”), from Proto-Indo-European*h₃órbʰos. Cognate with Sanskrit अर्भ (árbha), Latin orbus (“orphaned”), Old High German erbi, arbi (German Erbe (“heir”), Old English ierfa (“heir”)

Is there a name for the condition of having
always known you don’t own the body you come into,

from the moment you’re lifted out of the tunnel
and held up by the ankles to make that first,

long-drawn-out wail? The hands of the midwife,
the hands of the nurse taking the body’s measure,

counting the number of fingers and toes, testing
the apparatus of the ears— It doesn’t seem

important whose names are typed into the form
if one can substitute for another, if the body

from which you’ve recently been cleaved was,
after all, surrogate for another. What name,

if any, will you be able to call her? And,
as you grow, how will she be able to staunch

the heavy pull and pain as the body stops
producing the milk, as the walls of the womb

shrink back into themselves and everyone
carries on as if nothing happened? And the new

body to which you are assigned, the one
you are instructed to give the name “mother:”

how does it manage the work of rearing and housing
what is and isn’t part of her? In sleep, in dreams,

all of us reach for the other. Awake, all of us
stand in the circle of our perfect solitude.

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